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The Lady by Conrad Richter
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The Lady

by Conrad Richter

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I really enjoyed this novel set in the New Mexico Territory. Some stories just suck you right in and this one did. It is very well written and told from the perspective of a young boy looking back from about 60 years in the future. The novel was published in 1957, which if we go by the same timeline would place the story in the mid 1890's. There is a reference near the end of the story to the great drought and economic depression of 1893, and it is a big factor in the path the story takes. I really got a sense of the rural atmosphere of the times and the people who lived there. The boy has been orphaned and although he doesn't believe it, many of the townspeople believe his father embezzled a large sum of gold he was transporting as a courier and left to join a woman far away. The boy is taken in by cousins, "The Lady" Dona Ellen and her husband Judge Sessions, the boy's uncle. There is some bad blood in the family with a nasty brother-in-law, Beasley, who is married to Dona Ellen's sister, Ana, and a murder mystery ensues when cattle are driven where they shouldn't be and a rifle shot finds its mark. Something of a range war ensues, with cattlemen vs sheep ranchers. First "The Lady" Dona Ellen's brother Charley is murdered and more deaths and disappearances follow. "The Lady" is at the center of it all. The story plays out rather sadly as a tragedy.

The author is famous for other stories including the classic "Light In The Forest", which I am sure I read as a young teen. He has written a number of other stories which I am in a mood to try and track down since I enjoyed this so much. My library system has purged many classic books that I wish they hadn't, but they seem to have held on to a good number of Richter's novels.

I'm surprised "The Lady" was never made into a movie. 3 1/2 - 4 stars ( )
  RBeffa | Apr 16, 2013 |
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