Haruf sings the second verse of his moving hymn to life on America’s great plains.
Eventide is a sequel to the 1999 Plainsong, Haruf’s wonderfully straight-talking debut novel about life and work in and around Holt, Colorado, a withering town long miles from Denver and light-years from the coasts. Some of the characters from that first story return in major and minor roles. Harold and Raymond McPheron, a pair of aging bachelor brothers who work the ranch on which they were born, take center stage, and the Guthries, schoolteacher Tom and his motherless boys, move to the wings. Victoria Roubideaux, the young high-school girl who moved in with the McPherons to escape her mother and find refuge during her pregnancy is moving off to Fort Collins with her daughter to go to college. The ranchers, who dearly love her and her daughter, will be bereft in their absence but they have made the move possible. They resume their hard, lonely work, setting great store by Victoria’s weekly phone calls. In town, three small families are finding their own hard lives harder. Welfare recipients Betty and Luther Wallace, a couple who should probably be in a group home, are unable to protect their two children either from schoolyard cruelty or from Betty’s sadistic prison-bound uncle Hoyt. Mary Wells and her two daughters are living on money sent from Mary’s husband in Alaska, but the marriage is broken and Mary will lose her pride and her domestic order. Down the street, ten-year-old DJ Kephart has sole care of his grandfather, a retired railroad man close to the end of a tough life. DJ’s sole comfort is his friendship with Dena Wells, Mary’s elder daughter. When a bad-tempered bull kills Harold McPherson, Raymond is nearly numb, leaving him vulnerable to—of all things—romance.
Melancholy truths set to gorgeous melody.