TEXAS DAWN by Phillip Finch


Email this review


On a bigger scale but less charming than Birthright (1979), this three-generational Texas saga reaffirms Finch's basic skill in recycling lots of familiar western plotlines. It starts off in 1865, as three Confederate vets team up to start a ranch: Charlie Fowler provides the investment and vision, Orrin Sample the muscle and doggedness, Earl Newsome the deft know-how. They buy their acres, hire vaqueros, make a killing on their first trail drive to St. Joe, buy more land-and Fowler brings his motherless two-year-old daughter Rose to live with them (at age five, while the men are on a drive, she shoots a thief who has just murdered her babysitters). The years pass, the ranch grows, and then Earl comes home from a trail drive with widow Irene (his new bride) and her son Raymond: he and Rose will fall in love in adolescence. But meanwhile bad feelings are growing between frustrated, unhappily wed Irene (who wants to split up the land) and Charlie (who wants to hold the ranch together); there's a Romeo-and-Juliet effect on the young lovers; and things get even stickier with the surprise appearance of the wife and mother who long ago deserted Charlie and Rose--crazy Olive. It all seems to be too much for poor Charlie: he dies in a fall from his horse during a storm. But Rose will try to fulfill his vision of a single huge ranch--by marrying first Raymond (true love but lots of volatile misery) and then the third original partner, Orrin. Deaths, marriages, etc.--up to Rose's demise in 1951--with lots of feisty folks, sweeping landscapes, and good clean prose. Unoriginal but sturdy.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row