The Jump-Off Creek

Molly Gloss, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16.45 (186p) ISBN 978-0-395-51086-5
Set in the high mountain country of Oregon during the 1890s, this first novel is a quiet, unsparing portrait of pioneer life, recounted simply and without romanticism. Drawing on pioneer diaries, journals and hand-me-down stories of her own ancestors, Gloss displays a deep awareness not only of the brutal hardships of frontier life, but also of the moral codes and emotional attachments of the people who settled there. Drawn by the freedom the West offers, Lydia Sanderson leaves a disappointing marriage in Pennsylvania and comes to Jump-Off Creek to homestead a place of her own. Tim Whiteaker, ``gone cowboying'' since the age of 13, and his partner, the half-Indian Blue Odell, raise cattle nearby. Three wolfers, squatting on abandoned property near Jump-Off Creek and walking the thin edge of the law in order to earn a marginal living, provide much of the tension within the novel. The author's intimate understanding of the harsh physical conditions and of the rituals and practices of frontier life (there are long descriptions of how to brand cattle and how to mend a roof) sometimes overshadows a deeper delineation of character. However, most of the scenes are handled with a restraint that communicates the characters' endemic loneliness, and the dialogue, though spare, is rich enough to convey their emotional conflicts. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-395-92501-0
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-618-56587-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-2708-4
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-544-31065-0
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-547-52536-5
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