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The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee

The Bones of Paradise

by Jonis Agee

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809220,751 (3.86)26



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book and found some of the writing poetic and beautiful. Engaging characters and the setting is a character in itself. However, there were several times where the story seemed to veer off to a random conversation or idea right in the middle of a fairly involved passage. More than one time I checked to see if I had skipped a page because the flow seemed off and confused me. This is an ARC I've had for awhile and the first book I have read from this author, I did enjoy her writing enough to read another one of her books. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jan 19, 2019 |
Birds call to their mates across the sandy plains. A multicolored cloud of butterflies wings its way across the grassy landscape. Astride a horse, a mysterious man finds the body of an Indian woman and her child in a shallow grave in the shadow of a windmill. Gunshots erupt across the expanse, and the man is killed.
With [The Bones of Paradise], Jonis Agee establishes herself as one of the most underappreciated writers of our time. Her delicate descriptions, echoing the tones and colors and sounds of the place where the story is rooted, are so poetic that it’s hard to believe you’re reading a western, complete with gun play and violence. She is a wordsmith equal to the great poets. Here is her description of one of the minor characters:

“Pushing the strand of damp hair off her forehead, she gave Grave a quick smile and tilted her head. Her eyes had a touch of green like the water I hay meadows. Sometimes, when she was angry, a dark cast appeared like the morning sky before rain. She was a handsome woman with light tortoiseshell skin that shone in the new summer light.”

Her skill with words is matched in her story creation. [The Bones of Paradise] is a family saga, rich in plain’s history and western sensibility. You’ll taste the dust in the air as her characters sift through the vengeance and greed that rules their lives. You’ll smell the blood in the air as the cavalry massacre the innocent at Wounded Knee. And the overripe plains sun will illuminate the spidery threads woven from these events into their lives.

In her main characters, Dulcinea and Rose, she’s created women to rival any cowboy. At the end, in the wake of her husband’s death, her son’s death, and attempts to swindle her out of her land, she ponders how to proceed with her life –

“Her faith had removed God, dispersed him like seed or gravel. It was not that God didn’t exist. It was that he wasn’t alone, but in pieces, parts, always whole, sufficient, always multiple. So like the ancient Greeks she trod lightly, carefully, tried to give no offense to the land, the sacred grass her feet crushed, the ants hurriedly preparing caverns for the winter, pushing tiny yellow boulders out of a hole the size of a bee’s leg. Oh the offense, to walk so clumsily through the world, to crush and bring havoc, that they couldn’t help. But to give no recognition to the cost of their being alive, to the price paid for their dreams by everything else?

Bottom Line: A lyrical and poetic book that will make you forget you’re reading a western. Agee is easily one of the most underappreciated writers of our time.

5 bones!!!!!
1 vote blackdogbooks | Feb 23, 2017 |
Good story. Way too much description that bogs down story and adds little to the intense family struggle. 10 years after Wounded Knee secrets and mistrust abound.

I love good cowboy Indian stories beginning with Little Big Man and most recent the Color of Lightening. This Was A Pleasant Surprise!

She held no punches describing the massacre at Wounded Knee. I skimmed over the devastating details of the carnage. ( )
  Alphawoman | Jan 13, 2017 |
[The Bones of Paradise] is a sprawling historical Western set in the Nebraska Sand Hills at the end of the nineteenth century. In the opening pages, rancher J.B. Bennett is killed as he discovers the dead body of an Indian girl, setting in motion a struggle over the title of the land and a search for the killer.

The Sand Hills are wonderfully evoked by Agee's descriptions: "A person had to keep his eye on the smallest detail while the vast emptiness constantly tugged at his vision. You can get lost in a heartbeat out here, he'd told his wife. It took him most of his life to realize the significance of his own words." Throughout the novel, we are treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of this hard place.

But the novel isn't just about the challenges of ranching life; Agee also visits the massacre of the Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee, recognizing that many of the ranchers lived on land stolen from the Indians, "who mourned the land, not as wealth but as the place where all was alive, all living, in one form or another. The whites took it but the dead still walked it, the spirits, whatever they were."

Dulcinea Bennett, J.B.'s wife and Rose, the murdered Indian girl's sister, are strong women, great characters who work together to fight for their place in this unforgiving country generally considered a man's world, as well as to find the murderer of their loved ones.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction with a strong sense of place. ( )
  BLBera | Nov 6, 2016 |
Living in the sand hills of Nebraska takes a huge amount of determination, grit, and a love of the land. For Dulcinea and JB it was a place to ranch, raise a family and plan a future until it became instead a place where Dulcinea would loose her sons and run from her husband. There is of course a heartbreaking story behind this. She will return years later with plans to reclaim what was hers but will instead find her husband murdered and a young Indian woman alongside him. A man named Garvey, who has already lost his entire family to illness, will come upon them, almost losing his own life. Who are the killers? All the men suspected have one thing in common, they all were at the massacre of Wounded knee as were the dead.

The author spares no descriptions, no words when relating this horrible massacre. It is vivid and graphic. It is horrific and will leave a legacy of revenge and hatred. This is a very grim story, for much of it there is only a glimmer of light, of hope but the story of these people is enthralling as well. Their lives are so hard, very much a life of survival as things in this area for ranching has not gone well. Oil and mineral prospectors are pressuring the ranchers to grant them the rights to their properties. Loved that this featured two incredibly strong women, Dulcimer who will after much heartache, show indeterminable and enviable strength and Rose, her Indian friend and also the sister of the murdered young Indian girl, who vows vengeance against the murderer. One get s good sense of the inner struggles of these two women and the struggles to tame this land as a whole. The last chapter provides a glimpse into the future and it is here we can see if their struggles will bear fruit. Quite a good and realistic story. ( )
  Beamis12 | Aug 24, 2016 |
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"The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multi-generational family saga, set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sandhills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee--an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land"--… (more)

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