Painted Horses

Malcolm Brooks. Grove, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2164-6
Brooks’s debut captures the grandeur of the American West. Catherine Lemay, a former pianist, goes to Montana in the 1950s as a young archeologist to survey a valley for signs of native habitation before the area is flooded by a hydroelectric project. Catherine fell in love with archeology while digging at Roman sites in Britain as a student, but now in the ruggedly masculine West, she almost immediately butts heads with her assigned guide, Jack Allen. She also falls under the spell of John H., an artist and lover of horses who leads a nomadic life in the badlands. Catherine’s arduous search of the valley is contrasted for much of the novel with John H.’s harrowing life story. When the two meet, intrigue sparks respect, which eventually flares into passion. The middle of the novel bogs down with lavish description (“The tilt of the planet had outrun the legs of winter and dawn climbed early now over the wide lip of the world”), and the third act, in which Catherine’s findings threaten the balance of money and power in the community, follows a predicable course. But on the whole, this is a debut that captures a spirit of a place. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-8021-2381-7
Hardcover - 607 pages - 978-1-4104-7511-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4830-1355-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4830-1356-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4830-1354-1
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