Heart of the West

Penelope Williamson, Author
Penelope Williamson, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (591p) ISBN 978-0-671-50822-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-440-22211-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-52458-6
Hardcover - 978-0-7651-0776-3
Paperback - 591 pages - 978-1-4516-8373-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 792 pages - 978-1-4767-3100-1
Open Ebook - 640 pages - 978-1-4767-4006-5
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Aiming for a high-toned romantic epic but falling victim to some of the romance genre's excesses, the author of Once In A Blue Moon delivers nicely researched period detail and appealing characters in a story of frontier feminism. Chafing under the harsh constraints of her prominent Boston family, Clementine Kennicutt loves the lure of the wild West. When she meets a real cowboy, Gus McQueen, they elope to his home, called the Rocking R, in the Montana territory. As she steels herself for the rigors of ranch life, Clementine finds the real West a far cry from its depiction in dime novels. She truly loves her proper, honorable husband, even as she is drawn to his raw, uncouth brother, Zach, who resents having a hoity-toity tenderfoot at the Rocking R. The narrative is packed with incidents-most of them dangerous- including run-ins with grizzlies, rattlesnakes and rabid wolves, and foul weather ranging from blizzards to droughts. And Williamson presents a full array of socials, shindigs and shootings, weddings, beddings, birthings and buryings. Clementine encounters some stock western figures when she befriends heart-of-gold saloon owner (and ex-whore) Hannah Yorke and Chinese mail-order bride Erlan. Williamson gives these characters convincing voices, however, and demonstrates how women could bond and find new identities on the frontier. Williamson tells her story with brio, if a little too much florid prose. 200,000 first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club super release. (May)
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