Willow Field

Willow Field

4.5 2
by William Kittredge

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After numerous essays, short stories and the heralded memoir A Hole in the Sky, William Kittredge gives us a debut novel that ratifies his standing as a leading writer of the American West.

Rossie Benasco’s horseback existence begins at age 15 and culminates in a thousand-mile drive of more than 200 head of horses through the Rockies into Calgary.…  See more details below


After numerous essays, short stories and the heralded memoir A Hole in the Sky, William Kittredge gives us a debut novel that ratifies his standing as a leading writer of the American West.

Rossie Benasco’s horseback existence begins at age 15 and culminates in a thousand-mile drive of more than 200 head of horses through the Rockies into Calgary. It’s a journey that leads him, ultimately, to Eliza Stevenson and a passion so powerful, his previously unfocused life gains clarity and purpose. From the settlers, cowboys, and gamblers who opened up this country to the landholders and politicians who ran it, this is an epic tale of love and wide open spaces that stretches over the grand canvas of the twentieth-century West.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
The opening chapters of William Kittredge's new Western are so seductive you'll want to strap on spurs and light out for the territory. The Willow Field spans most of the 20th century and describes a way of life that hung on for decades after the rest of the country slipped into the effete and poisonous modern age. But the most surprising thing about Kittredge's novel is that it's his first. After dozens of essays and short stories and his memoir, Hole in the Sky , it's easy to imagine that you must have read a novel by this 74-year-old writer before. In fact, he and Steven M. Krauzer, a colleague at the University of Montana, wrote nine Westerns under the pseudonym "Owen Rountree" in the 1980s, but this time he's riding solo under his own name and calling the outing his debut.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Memoirist and story writer Kittredge's first novel (after The Nature of Generosity and Hole in the Sky) tells the life story of Rossie Benasco, the ornery son of a Reno, Nev., casino pit boss who, at age 15 in the early 1930s, takes work as a "wrango boy" at a Nevada ranch owned by retired rodeo legend Slivers Flynn. Rossie's intimate relationship with Slivers's daughter causes Slivers to give Rossie a choice: run a couple hundred horses to Calgary or stay and "have a mess of redheaded kids." Rossie chooses the thousand-mile trek and, at trail's end, falls for Eliza Stevenson, the beautiful and pregnant (the father "went batshit" and is in prison for assault) daughter of a Scottish businessman. Eliza's father deeds the family's Montana farm to Rossie to nudge him into marrying Eliza, and the couple seal their relationship with the birth of a son and a wedding. Kittredge moves Rossie along with a compelling confidence: Rossie learns to run a farm, watches his son mature and adopts an orphaned girl before joining the Marine Corps in December 1941; he is shot by a fellow soldier and spends most of his tour working as a supply clerk. Years later, his children grown, Rossie gets involved in local and state politics, which proves to be as perilous as the Pacific theater. Kittredge balances earthy dialogue with lyrical prose to create a memorable evocation of the American west. (Oct. 6) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Kittredge (English & creative writing, Univ. of Montana; Hole in the Sky: A Memoir) uses strong, earthy language to tell the story of Rossie Benasco. This is a cowboy romance told as a man would tell it, but the tale doesn't end when boy gets girl (or vice versa); it goes on to cover Rossie's whole life and the lives of his wife and children. It's as if Kittredge is using the form of the novel to give an extended lecture laying his meanings between the lines like a modern Ernest Hemingway saying, "this is life in all its aimless glory." Love, sorrow, frustration, the compromises that men and women make to live together, horses, politics, friendship, the look and feel of the West (notably, Montana) between 1933 and 1991 it's all here. The title is a metaphor for endurance and suffering and possibly a form of guardianship that permeates Rossie's existence, and by extension, the West that he represents. Kittredge is a distinguished proponent of Western life; winner of writing fellowships from Stanford and the National Endowment for the Arts; and coproducer of the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It. Recommended for all collections about the West. Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Startling beautiful. . . . So seductive you'll want to strap on spurs and light out for the territory.”—The Washington Post Book World“Powerful. . . . Reminiscent of Larry McMurtry's classic Lonesome Dove. . . . Rich with vivid descriptions of the West.”—The Toronto Globe and Mail“Kittredge is a first-rate thinker, gracefully slipping D.H. Lawrence, Mike Royko and an homage to Norman Maclean into The Willow Field. . . .This is a book that many will cherish.”—The Plain Dealer“Beautifully composed. . . . Kittredge . . . has become a worthy successor to A. B. Guthrie and ‘The Great Montana Novel.’”—San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage Contemporaries
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

With The Cookie Jar, Hannah Swensen has a mouthwatering monopoly on the bakery business of Lake Eden, Minnesota. But when a rival store opens, tensions begin to bubble...

As she sits in her nearly empty store on Groundhog Day, Hannah can only hope that spring is just around the corner -- and that the popularity of the new Magnolia Blossom Bakery is just a passing fad. The southern hospitality of Lake Eden's two Georgia transplants, Shawna Lee and Vanessa Quinn, is grating on Hannah's nerves -- and cutting into her profits.

At least Hannah has her business partner Lisa's wedding to look forward to. She's turned one of Lisa's favorite childhood treats into a spectacular Wedding Cookie Cake. And Lisa's aunt will be bringing her famous Peach Cobbler to the reception. But Hannah starts to steam when she finds out that Shawna Lee has been invited-and is bringing her own Peach Cobbler.

Hannah doesn't like having the Georgia Peach in the mix, especially when both Shawna Lee and Hannah's sometime-boyfriend, Detective Mike Kingston, are no-shows to the wedding. Hannah has suspected that Mike is interested in more than Shawna Lee's baking abilities. So when she sees lights on at the Magnolia Blossom Bakery after the reception, she investigates-and finds Shawna Lee shot to death.

Everyone in town knew the Cookie Jar was losing business to the Magnolia Bakery -- a fact that puts Hannah at the top of the initial list of suspects. But with a little help from her friends, Hannah's determined to prove that she wasn't the only one who had an axe to grind with the Quinn sisters. Somebody wasn't fooled by the Georgia Peaches and their sweet-as-pie act -- and now it's up to Hannah to track down whoever had the right ingredients to whip up a murder…

Includes 10 original recipes for you to try!

About the Author
Like Hannah Swensen, JOANNE FLUKE was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in sunny Southern California. She is currently working on her next Hannah Swensen mystery and readers are welcome to contact her at the following e-mail address: Gr8Clues@aol.com or by visiting her Web site, murdershebaked.com.

Meet the Author

William Kittredge is the author of Hole in the Sky, a memoir; two collections of essays, The Nature of Generosity and Owning It All; and two collections of stories, The Van Gogh Fields and We Are Not in This Together. With Annick Smith, he edited The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology. A co-producer of the movie A River Runs Through It, he grew up on his family ranch in Oregon, studied at Oregon State University and the University of Iowa, and was Regents Professor at the University of Montana for decades. He lives in Montana but travels widely.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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