Books by Janice Woods Windle

HILL COUNTRY by Janice Woods Windle
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Texas history, and its larger-than-life personalities—including a substantial appearance by that quintessential Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson—turns a fictionalized story of the author's grandmother into a scattershot dash through time. Windle, whose first novel, True Women (paperback), became a 1996 CBS miniseries, now takes the incomplete autobiography of her paternal grandmother, Laura Woods, and converts it into a novel that is as much a celebration of a person as a place. The story begins in 1877, when Laura's family is farming in the Texas Hill Country and Apache brigands roam the land. While her father is away, seven-year-old Laura, bathing in the river with her siblings, catches sight of an Apache band heading their way. The children warn their mother, who wounds the leader and forces his cohorts to flee. But Laura can't forget one of the band, handsome Herman, a white boy who was stolen and raised by the Apache. Later, Laura meets up again with Herman and falls in love, but he can't give up his outlaw life, so instead she marries Peter Woods, a local horse breeder. Her life continues to be full of incident as she tries to outwit Mexican Revolutionaries while entraining horses to Galveston, and as she watches Peter behead a man who ran down his cattle. Laura, though, harbors political ambitions. Her mother had once met Lincoln, and Laura continues the tradition as she encounters Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and, of course, Lyndon Johnson, whose mother Rebekah is her best friend. She longs for Peter to be elected governor but has to settle for appointive positions in Texas politics. In her 90s, she is still remembered by LBJ, who calls her every Christmas. Laura is brave, indeed, but her chilling self-regard makes her hard to like or admire. Still, a lively if uncritical reprise of recent Texas history.(First printing of 100,000; $250,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
TRUE WOMEN by Janice Woods Windle
Released: Jan. 14, 1994

A Texan first-novelist offers a sweeping historical based on the lives of her own female ancestors—a three-generational epic brimful with all the energy, drama, and occasional ingenuousness one expects from the Lone Star State. Whenever Windle trotted out the family legends of how her maternal great-great-grandmother Euphemia Texas Ashby King scared a Comanche raider off her land with a rifle, or how her paternal great-grandmother Georgia Lawshe Woods shot a Yankee captain for threatening her daughter's virtue, her children expressed doubt that women ever behaved in such a way. The result is this exhaustively researched tale of the King and Woods clans, who farmed, fought, and bred in the fertile south-central towns of San Marcos and Seguin. Beginning with five-year-old Euphemia's witnessing the aftermath of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, which led to a mass female flight away from Santa Anna's army, Windle traces Euphemia's return to Seguin, where she marries one of the infamous Rowdy King Boys, establishes a horse-breeding farm, and begins a dynasty of her own—all while fending off Comanche and panther attacks and weathering the whipsawing political scene as Texas becomes a republic, then a state, then a member of the Confederacy, and finally a state again. Meanwhile, Georgia Lawshe, a plantation-owner's daughter, is ripped from her genteel surroundings to resettle with her physician husband in sleepy San Marcos. Practical Georgia soon establishes a thriving cotton plantation and refuses to be distracted even by the Civil War from supervising the building of a family estate. The stubborn, make-do genes of these two pioneer women come in handy through several more generations of Texas females—who suffer through tornados, Yankee occupations, death, divorce, and the Depression with relative aplomb—before combining in the form of the author herself. Windle stumbles occasionally in her effort to justify some of her protagonists' actions—but the author's passion for the landscapes and people of Texas overshadows these minor flaws. (First printing of 150,000; Literary Guild Dual Selection for February) Read full book review >