Friday, July 30, 2010

St Agnes' Stand | Thomas Eidson

I was handed this to read, and as I love a good western, I was optimistic about it. I was so absorbed by it, engaged and entertained I tried to get everyone to read it. So even if you don't read westerns or haven't enjoyed them in the past- read on!
It's a short book under 200 pages. It isn't a typical light western or soppy love story set in the west. I think it is a true western describing a short few days in the lives of people living in the harsh reality that was the Western frontier of the USA.

In the deserts of California an outlaw comes across the trapped survivors of an Apache ambush. Two nuns and seven orphan children are trying to escape the brutality of the ambush. And yes, the historically accurate portrayal of what the Indian warriors did on the battlefield is nothing like what we've seen on TV westerns like Bonanza...

Sister St Agnes is convinced Nat Swanson is God's servant sent to save them. Nat is a hardened outlaw and won't have a bar of it. Over five days in the canyon, surrounded by the Apache, fighting thirst and hunger, St Agnes and Nat fight it out, knowing they must not be taken alive and yet trying to keep the children from succumbing to the heat and despair.

I was on the edge of my seat, I couldn't put it down. Incredibly well crafted, no word wasted, no superfluousness in the writing.  I went on to read all his books, they are great.
'The Missing','The Last Ride','All God's Children','Hannah's Gift','Souls of Angels'.
For generations Eidson's family farmed in Oklahoma, Kansas and Southern Colorado and he bases his stories on oral family histories and anecdotes he was told by his family of their experiences in the west. 
St.Agnes' Stand
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