I introduced myself to Jonis Agee with THE BONES of
PARADISE and plan to read more. Agee's novel doesn't fit in
one genre but encompasses many: historical, mystery,
romance, Western, saga. This story has something for
everyone, and the lyrical prose makes it even more
enjoyable. I found myself wanting to savor the language and
alternately wanting to race ahead to find out what happened
J. B. Bennett is riding to his father's ranch when he stops
at a squeaky windmill near a water tank. What he finds
instead is the body of a young Indian girl named Star, and
before he can investigate her death more, he is shot dead.
There's a lot going on in this
story, and I could lose some in the details, so
suffice to say J. B.'s wife, Dulcinea, returns from
self-exile to hunt down the murderer with her friend and
Star's older sister, Rose,
J. B.'s father Drum, her two sons, the ranch hands, and a man
named Graver, who stumbled onto the bodies. One of the most
important characters however, is the land itself.
Agee's characters have depth. It's hard to understand their
motivations sometimes, but it is never hard to react to them
when reading. She also delves into historical events such as
tragedy of Wounded Knee as the bulk of the story takes place
about 10 years after. Wounded Knee impacted many
characters' lives, and Agee uses the
massacre to anchor her story.
Her descriptions of the land in winter made me shiver, and
I could almost feel the perpetual sand blowing in my face.
Her greatest trait is her ability with dialogue and
relationships: between mother and son; father-in-law and
daughter-in-law; mother and ranch hand; Rose and Dulcinea.
Whites treated Indians abominably during that time, and
Agee brings that to light with action and description
stronger than any telling.
It's a story with a lot of ideas, but at its heart are love,
survival and redemption. Historical fiction readers who are
fans of this time period will enjoy the story. While it has
elements of mystery and romance, I hesitate to call it
either, but I definitely look forward to reading more of
The award-winning author of TheRiver Wife
returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the
unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills 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.
after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred
Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B.
Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American
woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The
deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett
family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged
wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As
the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the
dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is
revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught
between past and future.
At the center of The
Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea,
returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for
redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and
reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by
the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated
her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister,
Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.
kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and
dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America
at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this
magnificent, blood-soaked land—its sweeping prairies, seas
of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two
unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and
lawlessness—and the durable men and women who dared to tame
it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a
remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and
an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality,
tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the