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Augusta Lockeby William Haywood Henderson
Synopses & Reviews
One woman's tough, spirited life in the deserts and lonely ranges of the twentieth-century West
Novelist William Haywood Henderson has won acclaim for his precisely rendered and achingly beautiful evocations of land and nature and his ability to bring to vivid life the contemporary West of ranch hands and drifters. Of his most recent novel, The Rest of the Earth, Annie Proulx remarked that "Henderson writes some of the most evocative and transcendently beautiful prose in contemporary American literature."
Set primarily in Wyoming, Henderson's new novel is the chronicle of six generations of a family, viewed through the lens of one woman's very long life. Augusta "Gussie" Locke is born in Minnesota in 1903. As a teenager she moves west with her mother to Colorado and then runs away from home. A one-night stand with a traveling soldier leaves her pregnant, and with her daughter, Anne, she eventually finds a life in Wyoming running supplies to oil and mineral crews in the Great Basin Divide. Through the years, Gussie keeps moving, abandoning people and places, being abandoned herself; Anne runs away just as her mother had, never to be seen again. Settling in the Wind River Range, Augusta, alone again, builds a new life until, years later, her grandson and great-granddaughter seek to discover the woman behind the family myth. Spanning the twentieth century, Augusta's extraordinary trials and tribulations play out themes of love and loss, redemption and reconciliation. Redolent with myth, humor, strange landscapes, and stark reality, Augusta Locke is an indelible portrait of a woman who through great spirit and toughness of character blazes her own trail.
"Against the enormous beauty of the American Midwest depicted in Henderson's third novel, people cast small but significant shadows while tending to families as fragile as fallen leaves. The hero of this century-spanning epic is a tough, restless woman, Augusta 'Gussie' Locke. Born in 1903 in rural Minnesota to the beautiful Leota and the coarse, handsome trapper Brud Tornig, Gussie proves a disappointing curiosity to her parents: homely, solitary and given to running away. When Gussie catches her father with another woman, she and Leota flee the state, landing in Greeley, Colo., where Leota marries the wealthy Mr. Locke. On her first day as a Locke, the teenage Gussie once again runs off, escaping civilized life to the mountains of Wyoming. There, she finds work with the oil and mineral crews in the Great Divide Basin and cares for her daughter, Anne, conceived on the run from Greeley. Anne's own trajectory echoes Gussie's, and before long Gussie must face her mother's fate: abandoned by her only child. Saturated with details of the natural Midwest, Henderson's work etches in high relief the image of a solitary life among scenic riches. There is, however, an emotional wall around Henderson's protagonist, inviolable even by such studied prose; as a result, some characters remain elusive, like a beautiful, sun-faded portrait." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
An indelible portrait of a woman who through great toughness of character blazes her own trail
Novelist William Haywod Henderson has won acclaim for his depictions of land and nature and his ability to bring the American West to vivid life. Of his most recent novel, The Rest of the Earth, Annie Proulx remarked that Henderson writes some of the most evocative and transcendently beautiful prose in contemporary American literature. Redolent with myth, humor, strange landscapes, and stark reality, Hendersons new novel tells the story of Augusta Locke, a troubled yet spirited woman, as she raises her daughter in the deserts of Wyoming. Spanning the twentieth century, Augustas extraordinary challenges play out themes of love and loss, home and family, redemption and reconciliation.
About the Author
William Haywood Henderson has taught creative writing at Harvard and Brown and is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing at Stanford. He is the author of two novels, The Rest of the Earth and Native. He grew up in Colorado and Wyoming.
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