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Little Century

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Little Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780374192044
ISBN10: 0374192049
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss the setting of frontier Oregon as if it were a character: Is it seductive, comforting, dangerous? How does Esthers perception of it change throughout the novel?

2. What did Esthers mother teach her about survival? How did being raised by a woman affect Esthers sense of self?

3. When Pick takes Esther to Mr. Grist so that she can claim the homestead near Half-a-Mind, what do his actions say about the history of Americas expansion in the Pacific Northwest, and about humanitys approach to natural resources such as water?

4. What motivates Pick to be a rancher? Is he in it for the power or is he simply attached to the land? What separates him from the buckaroos? How is his relationship to the land different from Esthers or Bens?

5. How is Esther shaped by her talent as a woman of words: a diary writer, typist, typesetter, court reporter, journalist?

6. What gives Jane and Violet authority in their community? What did Janes secret past predict about her future? Ultimately, were her actions heroic or shameful?

7. Would you have chosen Pick or Ben? Discuss the differences between rancher and shepherd as they play out in Little Century.

8. How is the story line affected by the major events of the time period, especially the railroad expansion and Americas intervention in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War? How do these events reflect the greed that spurs Centurys range war?

9. How do Esthers memories of Chicago compare with her life on the frontier? What freedoms and constraints does she experience in each place?

10. Is Deloress ancestry the sole reason Pick rejects her and Marguerite? How does Esther help him understand his place in Delores and Marguerites world?

11. The novels animals—sheep, horses, and cats in particular—play important roles. How do their needs and instincts compare with those of humans?

12. Why is Esther concerned enough—even more so than the coroner—to uncover the truth about Joes death?

13. The author writes of the “net of cousins” comprising all creatures, in which friend and foe, hunter and hunted, are ultimately related. What prevents humanity from functioning as a generous, vast family?

14. Discuss the closing images of Esther: What were her greatest sources of fulfillment in life?

Reading group guide written by Amy Clements / The Wordshop, Inc.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Lauren Funtanilla, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Lauren Funtanilla)
Beautiful prose. A new look at the ways the human spirit can triumph over the raw, and sometimes unforgiving, nature of the old West.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374192044
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Keesey, Anna
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
Westerns
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130702
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Little Century Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Farrar, Straus and Giroux - English 9780374192044 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Keesey debuts with a confidently energetic tale of an 18-year-old orphan who leaves Chicago to eke out a new life for herself in Century, Ore., at the turn of the 20th century. Esther Chambers arrives knowing little about the West, but cousin Ferris 'Pick' Pickett — a cattleman and embodiment of the independence and enterprise of the frontier — sets Esther up in a cabin on the shores of Lake Half-a-Mind with plans for her to homestead till the land becomes a part of Pick's holdings. As Esther acclimates to a life of hard work — which Keesey evokes in economical and striking images — she comes to love the land and its inhabitants, learns to ride a horse, and falls for a sheepherder, the enemy of the cattleman. When factional conflicts erupt in violence, the harsh realities of cowboy justice and life in the West come to light, forcing Esther to choose her loyalties carefully. While Keesey offers a variety of characters with intriguing stories of their own, it is the richly depicted setting — from desert to dry goods store — that showcases her talent. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Here is a fine novel, written with grace, about the settling of Oregon and the evening redness in the West. The desert town of Century is about to consume itself with greed and vengeance when a young orphan from Chicago shows up with a moral clarity that outstrips her age, to remind us that character matters, and that justice is pursuant to conscience. Little Century is a frontier saga, a love story, and an epic of many small pleasures."
"Review" by , "'One place understood helps us understand all other places better,' Eudora Welty once said, and such is the case in this outstanding debut. Anna Keesey renders Little Century's time and place marvelously, but the novels concerns are timeless and universal. With its beautiful language, memorable characters, and compelling story, Little Century is sure to gain a wide and appreciative audience."
"Review" by , "This is a beautiful and completely absorbing book. In spare, luminous prose, Anna Keesey perfectly conjures the textures, characters, and urgency of life in Century. I read it at a gallop, and didnt want it to end."
"Review" by , "Little Century is rich and true and achingly beautiful. Its heroine, Esther Chambers, is the kind found in the best classic literature: an innocent caught against the backdrop of escalating violence whose essential goodness and loyalty shine through the savagery around her."
"Review" by , "Keesey writes lyrically and examines the ferocity of frontier life with an unromantic and penetrating voice."
"Review" by , "Highly entertaining reading. First novelist Keesey has produced a top-notch novel of Western Americana."
"Synopsis" by ,

“Anna Keeseys debut novel hums with raw energy: its youthful heroines, the small town around which the ranches lie, and the new century thats just unfolding....Exhilarating.”—The Boston Globe

In the tradition of such Western classics as My Ántonia and There Will Be Blood, Anna Keeseys Little Century is a resonant and moving debut novel by a writer of confident gifts.

Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless town of Century, Oregon, shes met by her distant cousin—a cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. There, she begins a new life as a homesteader, in the hope that her land will one day join Picks impressive spread.

But Century is in the midst of an escalating and violent war over water and rangeland. As incidents between the sheep and cattle ranchers turn to bloodshed, Esthers sympathies are divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, sworn enemy of the cattlemen. Torn between her growing passion for Ben and her love of the austere land, she begins to realize that she cant be loyal to both.

"Synopsis" by ,

In the tradition of such classics as My Ántonia and There Will Be Blood, Anna Keeseys Little Century is a resonant and moving debut novel by a writer of confident gifts.

Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless frontier town of Century, Oregon, shes met by her distant cousin, a laconic cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. Pick leads her to a tiny cabin by a small lake called Half-a-Mind, and there she begins her new life as a homesteader. If she can hold out for five years, the land will join Picks already impressive spread.

But Esther discovers that this town on the edge of civilization is in the midst of a range war. Theres plenty of land, but somehow it is not enough for the ranchers—its cattle against sheep, with water at a premium. In this charged climate, small incidents of violence swiftly escalate, and Esther finds her sympathies divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, a sworn enemy of the cattle ranchers. As her feelings for Ben and for her land grow, she begins to see she cant be loyal to both.

Little Century maps our countrys cutthroat legacy of dispossession and greed, even as it celebrates the ecstatic visions of what America could become.

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