Hank and Chloe

Hank and Chloe

by Jo-Ann Mapson


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Chloe Morgan is a thirty-three-year-old part-time waitress, small-time horse trainer, and full-time thoroughly toughened Western woman living in a corner of the dwindling canyonlands of Southern California. Calloused and wary, Chloe allows herself to love with total abandon and complete faith only her horse and her dog. That is, until a quirk in the weather and a sunrise funeral service cause her to cross the path of Henry Oliver, a sedate professor of folklore at the local college, who, like Chloe, has his reasons for holding back. But once Hank steps inside Chloe's makeshift cabin in the hills, Chloe realizes she must come to terms with her losses and decide between the life of solitude she had always thought was her fate and the love of a man who seems—at first—all wrong.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060924645
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/08/1994
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Jo-Ann Mapson, a third generation Californian, grew up in Fullerton as a middle child with four siblings. She dropped out of college to marry, but later finished a creative writing degree at California State University, Long Beach. Following her son's birth in 1978, Mapson worked an assortment of odd jobs teaching horseback riding, cleaning houses, typing resumes, and working retail. After earning a graduate degree from Vermont College's low residency program, she taught at Orange Coast College for six years before turning to full-time writing in 1996. Mapson is the author of the acclaimed novels Shadow Ranch, Blue Rodeo, Hank Chloe, and Loving Chloe."The land is as much a character as the people," Mapson has said. Whether writing about the stark beauty of a California canyon or the poverty of an Arizona reservation, Mapson's landscapes are imbued with life. Setting her fiction in the Southwest, Mapson writes about a region that she knows well; after growing up in California and living for a time in Arizona and New Mexico, Mapson lives today in Cosa Mesa, California. She attributes her focus on setting to the influence of Wallace Stegner.Like many of her characters, Mapson has ridden horses since she was a child. She owns a 35-year-old Appaloosa and has said that she learned about writing from learning to jump her horse, Tonto. "I realized," she said, "that the same thing that had been wrong with my riding was the same thing that had been wrong with my writing. In riding there is a term called 'the moment of suspension,' when you're over the fence, just hanging in the air. I had to give myself up to it, let go, trust the motion. Once I got that right, everything fell into place."

Read an Excerpt

Hank & Chloe

By Jo-Ann Mapson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Jo-Ann Mapson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060924640

Chapter One

Answer the door after midnight and you might as well set a place at the table for trouble--Chloe Morgan's first thoughts when the knock came. Hannah, her shepherd, let out an initial throaty growl from her nest of blankets, then thumped her tail in the dark for the all clear. Tugging the horse blanket from her bed, Chloe padded barefoot across the rough plywood floor.

Rule one: You were damn careful out here in the middle of nowhere. Hugh Nichols let a select few live in the slapped-together shacks on his two hundred acres; he'd be damned if he'd sell out to developers so they could fling stucco around his land. But when it came to just who got to stay and who didn't, he was mercurial. You did nothing to make him question his decision. Few of the shacks had electricity, but Nichols had tapped into the county water, so it wasn't all that bad. Rig up a hose and you could take a cold shower. If you wanted to read after dark, you could light a hurricane lamp--oil wasn't expensive. Living here was safer than the streets had been, when she'd lain awake in her truck till dawn, fearful of every noise. Each night since she'd moved here, she said a silent prayer of thanks for the roof. So far the county had left them alone, but she wasn't naive enough to think it would last. Who knew? You did what you could and then you moved on.

She walked quietly through the dark and rested her cheekagainst the plywood door. "What do you want?"

"You got a call."

The voice was Francisco Montoya's, who lived nearest to the pay phone and the main house, where Nichols slept off his legendary drunks and fought with a series of women he believed were after his considerable bankroll.

Bad news could always wait. "Tell whoever it is to call back in the morning."

He tapped louder now. "Chloe, you got to wake up. Mr. Green from the college. His mare is foaling. He asks for your help."

She cursed softly to herself. "Okay, Francisco, thanks. Go on back to sleep." Naked except for the blanket, twelve hours' work under her belt and only two hours' sleep, she wanted to go back to bed and the respite of unconsciousness. Earlier, the night air had smelled like rain and her truck tires were showing steel. Now Phil Green's mare was giving birth. So what? Did he want her to share in the joy of it? She despised foaling--the utter mess it could turn into, the way owners got stupid with pink or blue birth announcements, and all that crepe-paper nonsense. Too often she'd seen tiny hooves lacerate the vaginal wall, an ignored infection rack fine horseflesh until death came like an awkward blessing. The heartbreaking view of twins haunted her still--she'd sworn off all that--simply tried not to think about it and get on with her own work, teaching people to ride. But Phil was a good friend. He hadn't begged--he never would.

Out her only window, she watched the reflective stripes on Francisco's jacket dim as he trudged back up the hill to his own place. Home was an old tow-along silver Airstream, complete with electricity he'd jerry-rigged off a truck battery. Constantina was pregnant again, and their four-year-old daughter, Pilar, was just out of County Med with a winter bug that had turned into pneumonia. Out here a lot of things could level you, but Francisco and Constantina were illegals. They lived in fear of illness. The expense and the lack of proof of citizenship were more nightmarish than enduring the sickness. Once in the hospital, anything could happen. Social workers didn't help any, separating everyone. So they took care of each other out here, circled their wagons when there was trouble, recycled scrap aluminum, fed each other's animals when money was tight.

Hannah sat obediently by Chloe's side, snapping at some unseen insect. She had slim pickings in winter. Chloe shut the door, lay back down in bed for a minute, cursing motherhood, winter rains, the night in general. Then she got up, threw a pink sweatshirt over a denim miniskirt and found her tennis shoes, the only pair of footwear dry enough to be of service.

"Go get in the truck," she told the dog, and Hannah flew out the door, down the fire road, and into the bed of the old Chevy Apache, her bent tail folding beneath her like a flag at dusk. The truck started on the second try, a good omen. Chloe drove out of the compound without her headlights so as not to wake any more of the squatters than she had to.

Forget reason and plausibility, there were times Chloe swore she heard voices out here. Not babbling or devil tongues, human voices. Once she figured she wasn't crazy, she decided maybe they belonged to people who had died long before, whose very lives had been erased by time and progress, but who weren't quite done speaking their piece. On nights like these when she drove through the canyons in darkness, half asleep, on the watch for deer crossing, she heard them the clearest. Hermana, hija.. . .They called her back from swerving off the highway, kept her awake. Tonight they were saying, La yegua sufre . . . tocala.. . .She kept the windows rolled up and didn't stop for anyone. You didn't need a newspaper story to learn the wisdom of the road--everyone was suspect--everyone had an agenda. But that didn't stop her from stealing sidelong glances at two hitchhikers, noting their hopeful grins, the echo of others who seemed to single her out, speak to her. ­Date prisa, por aca! She would have liked the company of another warm body, even if they never touched or spoke. Just someone along for the ride. Like Fats had been, Fats Valentine. Stop it. Her life was singular now, since his death.

There, past the junction at Cook's Corner, as she waited for the traffic light to turn, she watched two bikers stumble out onto the tarmac. That character with his thumb out--his face held an echo of Fats's smile. Probably dangerously drunk, his liver halfway to cirrhosis. The other guy had the jutting brow of a Neanderthal and probably a survival knife to match every outfit. Forty years ago, he might have been an immigrant orange picker, his overalls thick with the labors of a night spent smudging, hope suffusing the weariness in his bones as he rounded another row of trees in the glistening frost. But the trees weren't there anymore, were they? A whole town surrounding the giant, nearly new university had sprung up like concrete circus tents. Still the words whispered in her ear, the breath faintly erotic as it tickled her neck flesh: Nunca seremos vencidos. Este ni¤o representa mi sufrimiento, y mi esperanza.

She shook her head drowsily and in the distance before her saw the freeway, a trickle of moving cars. Stay awake, she commanded herself. Phil Green needs your help. No good for anyone if you fall asleep and crash someplace like Irvine. You think the city fathers would name a street corner after you? No way, sister. Scrape you up like the rest of the trees and pour concrete for a new foundation.

But under the hard shell of highway she felt something else press against her tires. Preremembrances she could not possibly know, yet did. The faint outlines of roadhouses from sixty years ago shimmered before her eyes like heat mirages. She heard bits of tinny music from an old upright that had traveled the plains in a covered wagon, losing a few strings to the desert animals who thought they might make fine nesting material. Old music, simple, prim love songs asking permission to court and woo. People who weren't there. Visions. The result of some kind of brain irregularity you developed, deprived of sleep and adequate protein? All she knew was they had to do with the earth somehow, a past so charged with promise that it couldn't quite give up its grip on the present. Not that it was unpleasant; she never felt lonely. She saw them shimmer in those heat mirages; they were in serious desert now, land not in the least fertile, no longer preoccupied with rain but resigned to the stasis of hot waiting. All those faces--what did they want to tell her? Didn't the people coming west sense that they'd never leave? Why not go back to what they knew? A certainty of weather, seasons that descended like ritual? What promise drove them on? Was any struggle worth it? To stay alive. Bear children to increase the tribe. Some notion. Underneath that notion another surfaced, equal in weight: Someday they would each have to give up with grace.


Excerpted from Hank & Chloe by Jo-Ann Mapson Copyright © 2006 by Jo-Ann Mapson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This

Barbara Kingsolver

"Hank and Chloe are as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet but sexier and frankly, a lot more fun. This is a love story with a salsa bite and a winning heart."

Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
Set amid the sprawling suburbs and the wild canyons of Southern California, Hank & Chloe is the story of a pair of seemingly mismatched lovers: he, a solitary scholar from a staid family; she, a former foster child eking out a marginal existence.

Chloe Morgan, full-time waitress and part-time horse trainer, is called to help a mare through a troubled labor. Despite Chloe's efforts and the ministrations of the vet she calls, the mare dies. The horse's owner takes Chloe to his community college office, where she borrows a shirt from another professor, Henry "Hank" Oliver. This encounter is the beginning of the unlikely relationship between rough, independent Chloe and reserved, settled Hank.

When Hank visits Chloe's home, a shack in a squatter's community, she takes him into her arms-and, more reluctantly, into her life. Shortly after Hank and Chloe begin their relationship, Chloe's home is raided. She is injured and arrested, and her beloved dog Hannah runs off. Hank hires a lawyer and brings Chloe to live with him while she recovers. As the novel chronicles Hank and Chloe's relationship, it explores love in its myriad forms, including the pair', unresolved relationships from the past and a brooding passion for the besieged landscape.

Questions for Discussion

  • On the first page of the novel, Chloe answers the door to her home, which is a shack in a squatter community populated with illegal aliens and owned by a landlord resisting pressure to sell his land to developers. What battles are waged in the book over this "last frontier"? How is the land an integral part of the novel?

  • In the second chapter, Hank teacheshis class the story of two lovers, Eurydice and Orpheus. From classical mythology we know that when Eurydice died, Orpheus followed her to the underworld to ask Hades for her return. Hades agreed, on the condition that Orpheus walk ahead of Eurydice and not look back at her until they reached the earth. At the last minute Orpheus looked back and Eurydice vanished. How is this story paralleled in Hank and Chloe? Do other elements of folklore in the book have echoes in the story?

  • Ghosts, both literal and figurative, haunt the characters of this story. Hank mourns his dead sister, "the small pink ghost he got to see grow up." Chloe hears voices in the desert belonging to "people who had died long before, whose very lives had been erased by time and progress, but who weren't quite done speaking their piece." What do these and other specters from the past have to do with the present action of the story? What part do they play in all of our lives?

  • Mothers are in short supply in this novel. As the story opens, Chloe helps to deliver a foal from a dying mare. Chloe and her young friend Kit were both abandoned by their mothers. Though Hank's mother is alive, she emotionally abandoned him when his sister died. How are the characters of this novel affected by the absence of their mothers? Do they come to any resolution with their loss?

  • Chloe trains horses and teaches riding. How is she like the horses she knows so well?

    About the Author: Jo-Ann Mapson, a third generation Californian, grew up in Fullerton as a middle child with four siblings. She dropped out of college to marry, but later finished a creative writing degree at California State University, Long Beach. Following her son's birth in 1978, Mapson worked an assortment of odd jobs teaching horseback riding, cleaning houses, typing resumes, and working retail. After earning a graduate degree from Vermont College's low residency program, she taught at Orange Coast College for six years before turning to full-time writing in 1996. Mapson is the author of the acclaimed novels Shadow Ranch, Blue Rodeo, Hank Chloe, and Loving Chloe.

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    Hank and Chloe 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I bought this as a bargain book during the B&N after holiday sale. What a treasure it turned out to be. I absolutely fell in love with the main characters Hand and Chloe. Even though they come from very different backgrounds the author had no problem convincing you of their unique points of view. I was especially drawn to Chloe. I cried with her; was angry for her as the situations in the book unfolded. I would highly recommend this book. So much so that I was delighted to discover there is sequel called Loving Chloe. I have already ordered it and anxiously await its arrival.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Jo-Ann Mapson's Hank and Chloe is a cute love story between two people who thoght they would always be alone. Mapson's characters are strong and believable. A fun quick read.
    alaskabookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I met Mapson at a writer's conference last summer where she was an instructor, and bought several of her books so that I could get her to autograph them for me. This is a romance with substance, and well-drawn characters. Recommended as a lighter read, but, if you're sensitive to such things be aware of a couple explicit sexual situations.
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