A young couple tries to make their marriage work under the trying circumstances of the American West during the1880s.
Linse (Deep Down Things, 2014) has set her first historical novel in the Old West. Sara Moore begins the novel as a dutiful daughter, caring for her siblings and her widowed father. However, when her father attempts to arrange a marriage for her with his odious business partner, Chester O’Hanlin, Sara refuses and is savagely beaten by her father. Her path soon overlaps with that of James Youngblood, an ex-convict trying to redeem himself and making his way by doing odd jobs. Sara and James meet unexpectedly and are instantly attracted to each other. When Sara eventually finds herself cast out by her father, she impulsively decides to elope with James. Linse handles the natural complications and ramifications of that decision and the ups and downs of marriage very well. Her stark, spare style evokes the realities of the obstacles that Sara and James cope with as they set out for Kansas City and try to carve out a life together amid the “hundred thousand individual voices, mournfully calling” on the city streets. There are a few too many instances where Linse’s characters tell their feelings instead of demonstrating them organically. The narrative progression of the novel is a little uneven as well: it drags a bit in the middle only to speed up to a wildly dramatic climax and denouement. But on the whole, Linse has done an admirable job telling the story of a marriage and of the particular time and place that shaped it.
An overly expository but moving tale of love and marriage.