SHADOW RANCH by Jo-Ann Mapson


Email this review


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.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins