cover image Beneath the Bending Skies

Beneath the Bending Skies

Jane Kirkpatrick. Revell, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-8007-3612-5

Kirkpatrick (The Healing of Natalie Curtis) tells the story of real-life woman of the frontier Mary “Mollie” Sheehan in this pleasant fictionalized account of her life. After Mollie’s mother dies in 1858, six-year-old Mollie moves from Ireland to Kentucky with her father, James, and her siblings. Years later, James remarries and the family decamps to Montana, where 14-year-old Mollie is courted by Peter Ronan, age 24 . With her father preoccupied with work, Mollie keeps the courtship a secret for two years, but when the truth comes out, her father forces her to end the relationship and relocates the family to California. She prays for years to be reunited with Peter until her father finally consents and the couple marries and settles down in Montana. Mollie’s relationship with her father remains complex, but they make peace. Contemporary audiences might have a hard time swallowing the historically accurate relationship between teenage Mollie and the significantly older Peter, but her travels across the Western U.S. offer an enjoyable look at hardscrabble life on the frontier. Inspirational historical fans will find plenty to delight in. (Sept.)