A panoramic novel traces the acrimonious feud between two generations of families and captures a slice of time in American history.
After Walter Hubbard marries his wife, Millie, he moves the two of them from Kansas to Colorado in search of a homestead land grant from the government. There are no more parcels available, but luckily Walter finds a farm being privately sold and a truck as well. Jack MacGregor, a wealthy, sometimes-unscrupulous landowner, also had his eyes on that property, along with just about every acre in the vicinity. When Walter refuses to sell his new farm to Jack, even in the face of generous offers, bad blood ensues. Later, when Walter needs an additional family income to buy more land from a friend, Jack actively tries to deprive Millie of an open position for a teacher. Later, Walter’s son, Andy, falls in love with Andrea, but Jack’s son, Cat, pines for her as well. Andy and Cat are close friends, but neither is willing is to give her up. In order to placate the powerful head of the MacGregor family, Andrea pretends to date Cat, all the while pledging her devotion to Andy. Andy eventually leaves for college, and the distance between him and Andrea, and the relentless pursuit of Andrea by Cat, strains their relationship. Briefly, Andy wrongly believes she left him, and he angrily enlists in the Marines shortly before World War II. Debut author Bartlett, a former English teacher, ably builds the tension between the Hubbards and the MacGregors, exploring the ways resentment and entitlement can be passed down through generations. The biblical tone of the story, and the vivid depiction of the plight of farmers heading into the Depression, is reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The pace sometimes dawdles, and the dialogue seems more earnest than authentic, but the plot is masterfully executed. This is a long read at more than 500 pages, but it earns the reader’s patience and time.
An epic account of two families during a time of great poverty, turmoil, and opportunity.