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The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf

The Tie That Binds (original 1984; edition 2000)

by Kent Haruf

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5902016,673 (4.03)46
Title:The Tie That Binds
Authors:Kent Haruf
Info:Vintage (2000), Edition: Vintage Contemporaries ed, Paperback, 246 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf (1984)

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Review: The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf.

This is another great story in a country setting. The writing style is creative and inviting. It was written in the first person and the narrator was a neighbor, Sanders Roscoe to the main characters, the Goodnough’s family in the story. The isolated Colorado Plains is the setting which pulls in the reader slowly and stable, unrelenting, yet it’s naturally emotional and personalized. Haruf establishes the life in Holt, Colorado and does a beautiful way of conveying it to the reader. Kent Haruf created another great entertaining story. It was an enjoyable read.

The story is over the span of eighty years and the gap between years doesn’t hinder the story one bit. The characters are amazing and well developed. The father, Roy Goodnough, after his wife died, was arrogant and egotistic and treated his two children like animals. Lyman, his son worked hard with his father lashing out at him all day long while working in the fields of their farm. Lyman couldn’t wait till the day he would have a chance and leave behind the farm for better times. However, things got worse when his father got his hands caught and chewed up in the harrower machine behind the tractor. The town doctor treated Roy’s hand and from that day on he had nine stub fingers and one surviving pinky finger. Now Lyman felt guilty about leaving the farm but the abuse just got worse until one day Lyman went AWOL.

Then his daughter Edith, who slaved away with the woman chores of the farm, cooking, canning, gardening, cleaning, milking the cows, feeding the chickens also wanted to get away from the abuse and started dating, until her father put a stop to that. After her brother took off her father dragged her to the fields to drive the tractor everyday on top of other chores. While all this was going on the neighbor Roscoe tried to help at times but also got sick of the way he was treated. One day he watched Roy belittle Edith out in the fields that he lost his temper and had it out with Roy. However, that never stopped Roy from treating his daughter like an animal. It finally came down to Roy becoming ill and Edith soon rented out the fields to other farmers including Roscoe.

After Twenty years Lyman came home…This is what Edith was waiting for…As time went on Edith was isolated in the farm house with Lyman who was now going insane…Edith tried to figure out what to do with Lyman and came up with a solution to her eighty years of life on the farm….What did Edith decide…?

( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
He can sure write old folks. And younger folks, and flinty ones that don’t do so good, weak ones that wish they could, bitter ones that are helpless to be anything else.
This is just the way it is. Here is life.
He illuminates grace in hidden corners. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
This is a story of self-sacrificing Edith, who in the end couldn't take it any more. Excellent writing. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
This is a story of self-sacrificing Edith, who in the end couldn't take it any more. Excellent writing. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
"She will be eighty years old this week: a clean beautiful white-haired woman who never in her life weighed as much as 115 pounds, and she has weighed a lot less than that since New Year’s Eve. Still, the sheriff and the lawyers expect her to get well enough for them to sit her up in a wheelchair and then drive her across town to the courthouse to begin the trial.” (Ch 1)

So begins The Tie That Binds, written some fifteen years earlier than Haruf’s masterpiece Plainsong. Like its successor, The Tie That Binds features a sibling relationship, that of the dutiful Edith Goodnough and her simple brother, Lyman. The two are the children of failed homesteaders, “fixed” to an unrelenting life on the dryland farm, south of Holt. Lyman will eventually escape, but Edith will have no such reprieve: rather, she remains unfalteringly loyal to her cruel, ungrateful father. Her sole relationships, outside of immediate family, are with a neighbouring father and son: John and Sanders Roscoe. It is Sanders, in fact, who narrates the novel. The Roscoes alone are appreciative of Edith’s beauty, both inside and out; and they understand and accept her unwavering sense of duty. Later, they will know her incredible courage.

Haruf’s writing never fails to mesmerize me. Edith and Lyman Goodnough are unforgettable, just as the MacPheron brothers I came to love before them. Though perhaps they did not illicit the same level of emotional response from me as the two elder brothers, The Tie That Binds is Haruf’s debut novel! His sense of place and time here is as flawless as I’ve come to expect: he writes of an August day in 1967 when the Goodnoughs and the Roscoes, Sanders and his wife, attend the Holt County Fair, and I won’t forget that day! The evocative writing, so simple and yet so intimate, drew me time and again right into the novel’s pages, into Holt, and into the lives of the characters. Most highly recommended.

"But if their father was fixed, Edith and Lyman were fixed even worse. They were stuck now on that sandhill farm. How were they going to leave him, the way he was? They couldn’t leave him. Not that way, they couldn’t. It was hell for all of them. They were all fixed.” (Ch 3) ( )
8 vote lit_chick | Oct 1, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375724389, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:14 -0400)

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As elderly Edith Goudnough lies in a hospital bed, accused of murder, her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe, tells what he knows of her life: "a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged."--Cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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