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The Last Cowgirl: A Novel by Jana Richman
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The Last Cowgirl: A Novel

by Jana Richman

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interesting family drama: Now fifty-two years old and never married Dickie Sinfield looks back on her childhood when her father moved the family from the burbs to a Utah cattle ranch; at seven she went from suburban princess to mucking cowgirl. Over a decade after the transformation, eighteen year old Dickie had enough with the rough lifestyle and fled the ranch for Salt Lake City where she became a reporter.

Over the decades Dickie wants nothing much to do with her family and denies her feelings for her childhood friend Stumpy Nelson. However, her mortality comes home to roost forcing her to reexamine her feelings when her brother, Hebert dies in a poison gas accident at Dugway Proving Grounds. She returns to the ranch for his funeral and to face her family, her friends, and mostly herself.

This is an interesting family drama that looks deep at the impact emotionally on decisions in which people have reasonable choices to make; of fascination is how easily humans rationalize the selection vs. the rejections. In an aside subplot related to Herbert's death, the Feds are nuked by Jana Richman for their disregard of safety when it comes to handling of chemical and biological weapons, but the prime plot is people justifying poor choices.

Harriet Klausner
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Dickie Sinfield grew up an unwilling ranch hand when her father suddenly sold their suburban home and purchased a piece of land out in the wilds of Utah. Though her sister doesn’t take to the life and her brother seems born to it, Dickie is an unhappy in between, pleased with the work and the land but having convinced herself from an early age that she hates it. This sort of cognitive dissonance is a theme throughout the novel, from Dickie’s cowgirl roots to Utahns’ attitude toward the testing and disposal of deadly chemical weapons in their backyards. When Dickie’s brother dies suddenly, she is forced to face the past she has been avoiding for thirty years. This is not the sort of book I normally would pick up - I don’t really have much interest in westerns, or coming-of-age stories, or tales of redemption. (Or Mormonism, though that was more backdrop than main theme.) I only read this one because I found it by chance while traveling (thank you, BookCrossing!), and you know what? I enjoyed it. I loved the scenery and the quiet intensity of the characters, especially Merv, though Bev was definitely my favorite. A nice change of pace for me. ( )
  melydia | Nov 11, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061257184, Hardcover)

Dickie Sinfield was seven years old when her father uprooted the family from their comfortable suburban home and moved them to a small, run-down ranch in Clayton, Utah, where he could chase his dream of  being a cowboy. Dickie always hated the cattle-ranching lifestyle, and as soon as she turned eighteen she fled for the comforts of the city.

Now a grown woman, a respected journalist in Salt Lake City, Dickie is coming home following the tragic, accidental death of her brother. Suddenly back in the farmhouse she was once so desperate to abandon—emotionally exposed by, yet reluctantly drawn to the vast, desolate landscape and the solitude it offers—she must confront her family's past . . . and the horrifying discovery at the pivotal moment of her childhood that ultimately forced her to run from the desert.

Spanning two generations and vast landscapes, a novel that fans of Pam Houston and Barbara Kingsolver will eagerly embrace, Jana Richman's The Last Cowgirl will strike a powerful chord with anyone who has ever searched for solace in the space around them.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:38 -0400)

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