Prairie Sunsetby Eric Wilder
Sometimes a family member can become your worst enemy. That's what happens when John Warren's attorney son has him ruled mentally incompetent, takes everything he owns and then plans to send him to a nursing home. Warren leaves his son's Tulsa home in a snowstorm, intent upon visiting the healing waters he calls "the Magic Fountain" in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He
Sometimes a family member can become your worst enemy. That's what happens when John Warren's attorney son has him ruled mentally incompetent, takes everything he owns and then plans to send him to a nursing home. Warren leaves his son's Tulsa home in a snowstorm, intent upon visiting the healing waters he calls "the Magic Fountain" in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He soon meets Attie Johnson, an attractive Native American woman, on her way to play Indian bingo at Red Rock, Oklahoma. John's son, more worried about his reputation than his father's safety, instigates a state-wide search. Attie helps John elude the authorities and they soon become media darlings, much like latter-day Bonnie and Clydes. Along the way, they fall in love and find the real "Magic Fountain" high in the rugged Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas. Prairie Sunset is a haunting tale you won't soon forget.
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Open the cover of Eric Wilder's newest novel, Prairie Sunset, and meet John Warren, who you'll instantly like, and John Warren, who you'll instantly dislike. The former will take you on a journey that will leave you smiling, shaking your head in a 'Yeah!', and occasionally daubing the corners of your eyes. The latter, well, let's just say you'll have to resist urges to feel real anger as you remind yourself it's only a book. There is depth to this story, unusually (but effectively) told from several points of view, yet always and unmistakably drawing you in further to its bosom. You'll also meet Attie Johnson, and want to hug her like you did your grandma. Set in eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas, Prairie Sunset might seem more of a misnomer than a proper title ... until you hear John Warren's explanation. Stay with this one to its wonderful conclusion. You won't be sorry, and you will be picturing who'll play the parts in the movie that absolutely MUST be made of this incredible book. Eric Wilder hooked me first with Ghost of a Chance, then Murder Etouffee, and I've had the pleasure of reading a draft of his next novel, Big Easy. Prairie Sunset is a departure from Wilder's haunting stories of New Orleans, but it ranks up there with The Notebook and The Bridges of Madison County in its surgically precise incision into the heart. Buy it. Read it. You'll be glad you did.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to John Warren Sr. After the death of his wife, he is in a state of depression and given up on life. He is now living with his son, an attorney, and daughter-in-law in Tulsa. Although he is still mentally sharp, because of his depression he is withdrawn and seems to be senile, practically acting like an invalid to all except his twin granddaughters. Two things then happen which goads him into action. He learns that his best friend has recently died, and his son informs him that they will soon be placing him in a nursing home. John Sr., who is over 80 years old, now decides to "run away from home," and on a snowy winter day, John packs his bag and walks out the door. As he is leaving, he sees an RV driven by an attractive middle-aged woman, Attie, which seems to be stuck against the curb of the icy street unable to get any traction. After helping the woman free her RV, she offers to give him a ride, and his adventure back into the world of the living begins. John wants to go to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to what he considers the "Magic Fountain." Attie is on her way home to Eureka Springs. Of course, John's son soon discovers him missing, calls the police, and a full-scale search is initiated for the "senile" elderly man who has wandered out of his house in a snowstorm. Although it quickly becomes apparent that John Sr. is not senile and has voluntarily left, his son will not accept this fact and stop the police manhunt. We are now drawn into the lovely tale of an elderly "runaway" who has the adventure of his life and in the process learns that he can again enjoy love and life as he once did, reminding us that the "Magic Fountain of Youth" is really in our minds.