Dorothy Dierks Hourihan tells an astonishingly broad and poignant story in 1919 - A Kansas Tale, and the progression in history with 1928 An American Tale, painting a convincing picture of the small town on the Kansas plains in the years immediately following World War I. Nan Heath (arguably the author's finest creation), is first seen as she watches the bodies of her parents and sister being removed from their burnt-out home. Nan's progress from these bitter depths is the main current of the book; her relationship with Ned, and their eventual marriage, is a classic love story, full of awakening and triumphs. Along the way, Hourihan weaves an intricate plot from the lives of two families who had settled in Kansas, incorporating informative and religious intolerance, and and women's suffrage. Her mastery of craft is as noteworthy as her content is striking. The realities of life, often gruesome and depressing, are examined neither with morbid fascination or fainthearted aversion, but rather with the kind of observant compassion and lapidary attention to detail one would expect from an acclaimed painter, which indeed is Hourihan's vocation when she is not engaged in writing narrative fiction of the highest order.