RIDING SHOTGUN by Rita Mae Brown


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The prolific Brown (Pay Dirt, 1995, etc.) takes a high-risk plot device--time travel--and attempts to meld it with reincarnation, romance, and contemporary satire. The result: some interesting characters, more than a few laugh-out-loud lines, and a story that in the end sinks under the weight of its impossible plot. Pryor Deyhle Blackwood, nicknamed ""Cig"" (we're not told why: cigarettes? cygnet?), is a young widow struggling with a mortgage, two adolescents, a floundering career in real estate, and bad memories of her now-dead husband's philandering. Cig has one great joy, however--foxhunting, an enthusiasm obviously shared by the author (the hunting scenes that pepper the novel are full of dash and clamor). Caught up in her emotional funk, Cig allows a magic fox to lead her through time to 1699, where she takes the place of her ancestral namesake, Pryor Deyhle, on a colonial Virginia plantation. There, she must quickly learn to adapt and survive--as Cig handles with equal aplomb Indian raiders, blizzards, colonial dowagers, and the lack of modern conveniences. She quickly finds an ally in Margaret, her colonial sister-in-law and soulmate, whose attitudes, while leavened with 17th-century spirituality, are more modern than many a 20th-century woman's. Cig also encounters Lionel deVries, the colonial incarnation of her husband, who is just as compelling in this life as he was in the 20th century. But in 1699 Lionel has a rival for Cig's affections, and Cig's recognition that she can claim her own path toward true love and happiness is what gives her the strength to prevail in her own time. Brown's meticulously researched descriptions of Virginia's colonial life, as well as her dead-on ridicule of modern-day bad behavior, bring vigor to a tale that's otherwise not a coherent whole.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0553763539
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam