When June balks a month before her wedding to a soldier headed off to the Korean War, her grandmother Ellen tries to help her figure out what to do by telling her stories about an old friend's adventures in love.
Ellen is working on her youngest granddaughter’s wedding quilt when June has second thoughts and flies from Chicago to her grandparents' Colorado ranch. There, when she explains her anxieties—about her fiance’s going to war, being married to a soldier, and even losing herself in marriage—Ellen reminds her that plenty of women have doubts, then begins to tell the story of Nell, a woman who ran away three times, from three different men. Beginning with Buddy, whom Nell met on a ranch in New Mexico, Ellen explains Nell’s roller-coaster romance with the cowboy, then the charmer in Denver and the older banker who courted her in Kansas City. Meanwhile, Ellen is struggling with her husband’s encroaching dementia, her own weak heart, and the threat of having to abandon the ranch due to their failing health. Dallas spins a slow-moving tale of Nell’s romances and June’s uncertainty and, in the end, winds up sharing some long-held—though not terribly surprising—family secrets. Skilled writing and pacing propel the story, which is warm and heartfelt, if a little sprawling. However, a number of elements that seem to be set up as big surprises really aren’t, and the way the characters narrate various elements of the story comes across as oddly manipulative in the end.
A gently entertaining yet oddly flat effort from Dallas.