HOME GROUND by Cecelia Holland


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Hardly home ground for fans of Holland's bouncy historicals, this is an ambling tale about a woodsy, northern-California community of contemporary tune-outs who are busily engaged in marijuana horticulture. Writer Rose McKenna, weary of her live-in lover, the Pasadena smog, and people in general, drives north to communal River Ranch--her brother Peter's spread of second-growth redwoods and 20 acres of marijuana. Peter, in fact, owns 75% of the ranch, but in meetings of the community project (everyone shares the work and profit on the grass), he has only one vote; thus, the community members feel that ""Peter is very together in a lot of meaningful ways,"" while Rose knows that he's fighting a losing battle with alcohol. Among the dozen or so tillers of the soil: Coyote, who plans to cut down some redwoods and causes Hallie, the goat woman, to chain herself to a tree; Reina, 14-year-old daughter of Rose's back-home friend; and Miller, who loves Reina. But Rose discovers to her wonderment that she loves arrogant and sensitive Miller--so they travel about, finally make love, watch TV football, and share in community crises and traumas: the birth of a baby; helping Miller save Coyote's life after he's been shot by an edgy, trigger-happy River Rancher; the sheriff's raid, which finishes off the crop (except Rose's little field) while everyone belts for the woods; the communal heave-ho to the one who shot Coyote. And finally Rose, having decided to share her crop with the ruined others, says goodbye to Miller (who wanted a private harvest). In spite of the aroma of new-mown grass--joints are rolled at about the rate of one-per-page--and the dangling life style, this is a sentimental framework for counter-culture remnants; and Rose, who finds her home and love and harmony among the natives, is not too far removed from other Holland heroines of far times and places. Less than convincing, then, but always likable.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: Knopf