THE LADY by Conrad Richter
Kirkus Star


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This ranks high in the memorable list of Richter's novels- well up with Sea of Grass and The Trees, this reader's favorites of the list. The lady is a tightly written flavorful story of New Mexico in the '80's and early '90's, still more Mexican than American in mores, color and viewpoint. Dona Ellen, half Mexican wife of Albert Sessions, local judge, is ""the lady"" of the title,- magnetic, charming, vivid with a streak of violence which makes it not incredible that it was her long shot that killed the cattleman who drove his cattle ruthlessly through her beloved garden on the ranch. That the cattle belonged to the tight-lipped, sadistic Beasley, a lawyer married to Ellen's sister Ana, mattered not a whit; brother Charley took the rap- and was exonerated, but silent suspicion still pointed to Ellen, and the act brought its successive retributions in violent death, and finally the complete and mysterious disappearance of Judge Sessionr and small Willie, their only son. Ellen is the dominant figure throughout, though the story is told by young Jud, a nephew of the Judge, orphaned and taken into the Sessions' home. And an original plot thread weaves the grim story together, as the competition between Beasley and Dona Ellen is symbolized and brought to a melodramatic finale in the race between Ellen's beloved carriage horse, Critter, and the lawyer's racehorse. It's an absorbing and beautifully detailed panel of the American frontier.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1957
Publisher: Knopf