Synopses & Reviews
Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.
In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.
"With Edith as the center, a way of life is vividly described: the never-ending farm chores (which include a terrible accident you'll want to read with your eyes shut), Main Street on a Saturday afternoon, the porch swing, a fair, births, deaths and always the land. Edith's bleak existence may consist mostly of 'a lifetime of staying home'; it is nonetheless eventful. Kent Haruf writes so wonderfully that even if it seems he has created a woman too level-headed not to have figured out a way to move that half mile down the road, this flaw doesn't matter. His characters live, and the voice of his narrator reverberates after the last page: humorous, ironic, loving." Ruth Doan MacDougall, The Christian Science Monitor
"Edith's story is a good one told well....The creation of Sanders Roscoe is a risky narrative tactic. A few of the narrator's natural digressions slow the novel's pace and might have been deleted, though anyone entertaining idyllic notions about what it is to milk a cow in the dead of winter ought to pay careful attention to Sanders Roscoe's thoughts on the matter. A second, greater risk taken by Mr. Haruf is that, clearly, Sanders Roscoe cannot be present at every crucial moment in Edith Goodnough's life. Consequently, he must often surmise what he cannot know. But the suppleness and power of Mr. Haruf's writing take us swiftly past such moments." Perry Glasser, The New York Times Book Review
"An impressive, expertly crafted work of sensitivity and detail....Powerful." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[A] fine first novel that dramatically and accurately explores the lives of people who work the land in the stark American Middle West." The New York Times Book Review
"Kent Haruf writes so wonderfully....His characters live, and the voice of his narrator reverberates after the last page: humorous, ironic, loving." The Christian Science Monitor
"Haruf's gifts as a writer go beyond choreography. He has caught his prairie people with the skill of Wright Morris, the prairie itself with the sweeping eye of Willa Cather....[I]t's nearly impossible to believe this is his first novel." Rocky Mountain News
About the Author
Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Award, a Stegner Award, a Frank Waters Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado.