THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA
Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can’t help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota,
Meanwhile, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up–will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?
Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved, and delighted.
- Penguin Books
- June 2020
- 384 Pages
“This charmer of a tale is a loving ode to the Midwest, the power of persistence and, perhaps above all, beer. . . Warm, witty and–like any good craft beer–complex, the saga delivers a subtly feminist and wholly life-affirming message.” —People Magazine
“This generous spirit makes The Lager Queen of Minnesota a pleasure to read and the perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.” —Washington Post
“Delightfully intoxicating. . . will make you smile with its droll humor, and its poignant moments will stop you to reread and confirm that they are really that good. In beer-geek slang, Stradal’s novel is ‘crushable’ — easygoing, well-balanced, super-drinkable with tons of flavor … and will make you go back for more.” —USA Today
“In Stradal’s follow-up to his best-selling debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, the Minnesota native’s energetic prose once again captures the optimism of the heartland.” —Time Magazine
“Complex female characters, tragedies, and descriptions. . . will awaken all your senses. . . The book is The Lager Queen of Minnesota, but this release could cement J. Ryan Stradal as the King of Midwestern novels.” —Entertainment Weekly
1. At the center of the story is a family divided over an unfairly split inheritance. How do you feel about how each sister reacted to their father’s decision? Did this situation evoke memories of lopsided inheritances or contested wills in your own family?
2. Helen instantly loves beer on her first taste and soon comes to the conclusion that she wants to be a brewer. How would you characterize her ambition? Does her relationship with Orval feel honest or calculated?
3. When we first meet Diana, she is stealing tools from garages and selling them on the internet to make money. In spite of this, how does she become a sympathetic character? What actions does she make that reveal her kindness and generosity?
4. Edith likes to think of herself as a simple person—or does she? In what ways is she actually quite complicated? How does she reveal herself to be as calculating or focused as Helen?
5. Edith is convinced that her life would have been different had she received her half of the family farm. How would it have it been different? Consequently, how would Diana’s life have been different?
6. What do you think of the “education” Frank Schabert gives Diana about brewing? Do you agree with his methods?
7. Each of the sisters experience the loss of a beloved husband. How are they different in how they express their grief? How are they similar?
8. The relationships within the book, as in life, necessarily evolve and adapt as time passes. How do you feel about Diana and Clarissa’s friendship, and the reasons they grew apart?
9. If there was one more chapter after the final scene, what do you imagine might happen?
10. Who do you feel is the “lager queen of Minnesota,” if anyone?