Books by Jo-Ann Mapson

OWEN'S DAUGHTER by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: July 15, 2014

"Despite many positive components, including vivid descriptions of New Mexico's rich culture; endearing dogs and horses; and an inspirational message about surmounting shortcomings, the novel's lumbering pace outweighs all."
Characters from three previous novels—Solomon'sOak, FindingCasey and Blue Rodeo—merge in Mapson's latest, featuring a young mother and an older woman who must cope with unforeseen challenges. Read full book review >
FINDING CASEY by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"Readers drawn in by Mapson's warmhearted style should not overlook how rigidly she divides the line between good and evil, right and wrong."
Mapson follows the ever-so-uplifting characters she developed in Solomon's Oak (2010) to their new home in Sante Fe, N.M., where they face past demons as they build their future. Read full book review >
SOLOMON’S OAK by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

"A tender portrayal of those left behind in the wake of tragedy."
Mapson's quirky, character-driven novels (The Owl & Moon Café, 2006, etc.) explore loneliness under the big skies of the West, and this effort is no exception as a young widow rebuilds her life on her Central California farm. Read full book review >
Released: July 4, 2006

"Profound it ain't, but immensely readable and very charming in its own messy, undisciplined way."
Four generations of strong-minded women battle each other, their individual insecurities and life's many ups and downs in this overstuffed latest from Mapson (Goodbye, Earl, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
GOODBYE, EARL by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

"Enough loose ends for another three novels, but only readers seriously in love with overstuffed plots and feisty middle-aged women will hope for more."
The four women who bonded in Bad Girl Creek (2001) and dealt with complications in Along Came Mary (2003) return for the allegedly final volume of Mapson's trilogy. Read full book review >
ALONG CAME MARY by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"A slight sophomore slump in the series, but enough heart and soul to bring most of Mapson's fans back for installment number three to see how she ties up all those loose ends."
Despite some lurid plot premises and extremely convenient coincidences, the feisty characters and rueful emotional wisdom of this sequel will win over all but the hardest-hearted reader. Read full book review >
BAD GIRL CREEK by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: May 1, 2001

"An absorbing story and quirky, appealing characters (a given with Mapson), deepened by honest grappling with a whole slew of messy emotions and issues. "
In Mapson's (Hank & Chloe, 1993, etc.) mature sixth novel, four women with variously awful pasts come together to run a California flower farm.Read full book review >
Released: June 3, 1999

In a delightful fifth novel, Mapson (Loving Chloe, 1998, etc.) brings her eponymous heroines fully to life and credibly orchestrates their different, necessary squirmings through a year of heartbreak on a New Mexico horse farm. Rose, at 40 the elder of the sisters, is stuck in modest circumstances and frozen in subdued grief for her husband, recently killed by a drunk driver. Her children have left home and left Rose empty, though she flirts around a romance with her boss, Austin Donavan, an alcoholic veterinarian. Meanwhile, Lily, a sales rep in southern California for a surgical equipment company, yanks down a hefty paycheck at the price of her soul, has dozens of loveless encounters, and misses her hometown of Floralee, New Mexico. The sisters meet up again at their parents— ranch, and Mapson, with subtle emotional insights and fluid narration, chronicles their hopes and disappointments over the course of one fateful year. Rose falls for (then rejects) a double-crossing (then repentant) Austin; Lily rekindles a romance with high-school flame Tres, despite memories of the child he fathered (and she aborted) when they were 18. Tres, a former psychiatrist, and Austin, who drinks away his grief over a painful divorce, both come with baggage, but their humanity is not slighted by the author. Mapson spins an enjoyable yarn that doesn—t disdain earned sorrow: the funeral for Shep, the grizzled and wise ranch manager felled by prostate cancer, will bring some tears. Essentially a story about reconciliation and compromise, this warm, frank narrative talks honestly about limits, betrayal, and the possibility that risk- taking will out in the long run over the safety of despair. Mapson is particularly refreshing as a portraitist: she knows the Wilder sisters well and needs no help from Freud to illuminate their conflicted, frustrated, ambitious inner lives. A clean, honest, easy, unadorned tale. Read full book review >
LOVING CHLOE by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

Tough love and the love of horses go hand and hand in this conventional but fairly skillful sequel to Mapson's well-received novel about mismatched lovers, Hank and Chloe (1993). Loving Chloe literally begins where Hank and Chloe finished. Hapless horsewoman Chloe pulls her truck up in front of the northern Arizona cabin that Hank, her former lover, has inherited from his grandmother. A gentle former professor of folklore, Hank has been wishing that hard-edged Chloe would finally get it together and come back to him. And indeed she does: for Chloe's pregnant. Before she can kick off her Tony Lamas, the two are once again passionately entwined and sharing dry, self-deprecating jokes. ``This feels so right,'' says Hank, delighted by the prospect of becoming a father. Meanwhile, Junior Whitebear, a famous Navajo jeweler, returns to the nearby reservation after eight years away. Whitebear, a man of integrity, tenderness, and humor, arrives just in time to play midwife, delivering Chloe's baby in a wrenching birth scene. Readers of Hank and Chloe will remember that the couple originally met during the messy birth of a foal, Chloe getting covered by the blood of the dead mare. This time, she's the mare in trouble. And—wouldn't you know?—soon after she and Hank become parents, Chloe finds herself irresistibly attracted to the savior Whitebear. Mapson, in fact, packs in so much story here that at times the novel reads like a partial outline for number three in her series—with the real flaw that the conclusion seems tacked-on and too neat to suit the raw emotions of its characters. Still, Mapson knows how people behave under the influence of pain, and she captures—evocatively—the unique setting of the Southwest. Though predictable in a sexy, country-western ballad way, also as lyrical and memorable as any romantic melody. (Literary Guild selection) Read full book review >
SHADOW RANCH by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: April 1, 1996

Yet another sensitive family drama set in today's New West from the author of Hank & Chloe (1993) and Blue Rodeo (1994)—this one featuring a rich and feisty California octogenarian, his ex- stripper lover, and the troubled grandchildren who disapprove, disapprove, disapprove. The Carpenter clan of southern California has been rich ever since the family-owned Shadow Ranch started shipping its citrus fruit all over the country, but its members have carried a curse through the generations as well. The curse takes the form of a defective heart—a genetic time bomb that has already taken the lives of 80-year-old Bop's grown son and his only great-grandson, four-year-old Spencer. It's hard for Bop's surviving grandchildren, Lainie and Russell, to understand why their gentle father had to die while irascible old Bop is still kicking in his landmark Frank Lloyd Wright house back on the bay—running through a series of gold-digging wives, riding his bad-tempered horse, and trying to run his grandkids' lives even though they stubbornly refuse to take his money. Lainie has enough problems as it is—trying to maintain her marriage and hold onto her part-time job in the wake of her son's death. Russell, whose casual love affairs and career as a used-record salesman have proved most galling to his grandfather, looks on the old man with greater equanimity—although when Bop takes up with Earlynn, an ex-stripper he spots on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, Russell worries that Bop's worst faults may turn out to be his own. In the end, time heals all wounds, with help from good-hearted Earlynn, and the Carpenters find themselves happy at last, contrary to all expectations. Less eccentric and arresting than Hank & Chloe, with a way of rambling for long stretches, though Mapson's empathy for the modern western psyche still elucidates and entertains. (Literary Guild alternate selection; $40,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
BLUE RODEO by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: May 18, 1994

Mapson's second novel set in the contemporary West is as lyrical and romantic as her first (Hank & Chloe, 1993), but its stock California-yuppie characters fail to inspire much interest and the predictability of the love story disappoints. Margaret Yearwood is in her 40s, and recently her world has fallen apart. Her husband, an LA television writer with a penchant for ambitious actresses, has divorced her to marry his pregnant young lover. Her teenaged son, Peter, acting out over the divorce, skipped school to go swimming in Tijuana, caught meningitis, and has become completely deaf. Traumatized by her son's suffering, Margaret has turned for comfort to a solicitous male friend, only to have her prettier younger sister slip into bed with him first. Understandably fed up with California, Margaret has fled to New Mexico, partly to be near her still-angry son, who has demanded to attend a school for the deaf outside of Santa Fe and wants to make his home with a deaf foster family, and partly to recover from the chaos of her own life. Renting an isolated farmhouse just outside the town of Blue Dog, she encounters Owen Garret, a middle-aged cowboy living on the grounds. Owen has his own past to escape- -alcoholism and an accidental murder committed in his younger years. As Margaret and Owen try to face their demons through isolation (in his case) and painting pictures (in hers), a very foreseeable romance develops against a background of wildflowers, cozy fires, and meaningful conversations over cups of tea. Hank & Chloe startled the reader with its original, eccentric characters. This follow-up is likely to lull them to sleep with its easygoing, unsurprising, country-western charm. (Literary Guild selection; author tour) Read full book review >
HANK & CHLOE by Jo-Ann Mapson
Released: March 31, 1993

A warmly human first novel that lingers in the mind long after its heroes have seen the sunset—from poet and storywriter Mapson (Fault Line, 1989—not reviewed). Hank, middle-aged, middle-class, and still single, teaches folklore and mythology at the junior college in his southern California hometown. Chloe, 33 and struggling to make it through each day, waits tables at a local diner, gives equitation lessons to rich kids, and has recently moved from her pickup truck to a one-room, cold-water shack in the canyons. The two meet when Chloe, once a prize-winning rider whose life collapsed after her cowboy lover drank himself to death, helps a professor at the college birth a new colt. Hank, transfixed by Chloe's beauty as she sheds her bloodstained sweatshirt, offers her his prized Irish cotton shirt to wear instead. Hank trails Chloe to the diner and soon, despite their obvious differences, the two become an oft-remarked- upon item around town. Then Chloe's shack is invaded by police who tear up her house, break her ankle, and arrest her for assault, apparently at the behest of developers who are after the land. Hank grabs the chance to rescue his lover from jail and shepherd her through the legal process until justice is done. But to Hank's dismay Chloe refuses to play damsel in distress, preferring to break up with him instead and sink back comfortably into fatalism and despair. Friends and family shake their heads in mourning, but folklorist Hank knows another quest is in order: This time he leaves his job and begins a journey of the soul, patiently rebuilding a shack in the Arizona desert—until Chloe comes riding up in her truck to make his day. Gentle, earthy, down-home fiction from the New West. (First serial to Cosmopolitan) Read full book review >