A memorable character beautifully rendered

by | Dec 9, 2012 | Book review, Musings | 4 comments

Huachuca Woman is thoroughly researched and beautifully written, with some scenes breathtaking in their elegant use of language and their strong emotional impact. The main chacter, Jo, recounts her life’s adventures to two of her grandchildren who have come to visit the ranch on which Jo has spent most of her life. The story moves back and forth from 1952, when Jo is an old woman, to various episodes from her sometimes heartbreaking and often exciting life lived in the shadow of the Huachua Mountains of the American Southwest. Jo is compelling. The historical detail is rich, and for the most part, woven in seamlessly. And the author has succeeded in making a slice of American history come vibrantly to life through Jo’s eyes.

As I read, however, I felt the story dragged at times, as parts of some scenes seemed to be written to impart historical details that served to provide informmation, but kept the story from moving forward. I also noticed an anachronism or two, for example, a young adult in 1952 said “way cool.” It was common for people to say “cool” in the 1950s, but “way cool” really didn’t come into use until much later in the 20th century. I think this terrific book could have used just one more edit to tighten up a few scenes and details.

This is a book written with great care and skill, though, so I wouldn’t want my quibbles to stop anyone from picking it up and giving it a read. It’s well worth the time.


If you’ve read this book, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments. If you have thoughts on this review, I’d love for you to share those, too.

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  1. Robin Leigh Morgan

    I haven’t read the book, and the chances are I probably won’t. The genre of historical fiction is a genre I unfortunately have no interest in reading, simply because of what it is. The problem for books in this genre is, I feel, precisely the historical nature of the story involved. Not only are the events surrounding the story important to its appeal, the location of the story is also important. If you read the book’s description on Amazon, the end of which reads:

    “The Lazy L Historical Ranch is a vibrant learning center for the preservation of the history, cultures and legends of Cochise County, not the least of which is of the HUACHUCA WOMAN.”

    you’ll find the geographical location this book apparently deals meet, which, I feel, limits further the possible audience this book might appeal to,

    and what I’ve said might not pertain to all
    those who might consider buying a copy

  2. admin

    Thanks for your feedback on this review, Robin Leigh. Historical fiction isn’t for everyone. I do believe, though, when something is very well done it can transcend genre.

  3. Arletta Dawdy

    Thanks for your penetrating review of HUACHUCA WOMAN. I am very happy that, despite its flaws, you found the book enjoyable. I can’t tell you how many edits it went through over the years and I think I know exactly which passages you are referring to…ones that I questioned along the way but kept returning to the manuscript. BY GRACE is out now and I hope you will give it a read!

    Thanks for sharing your views…I love and read lots of historical fiction, set in many time periods and all over the world, precisely to enjoy the story and the history.

  4. admin

    Thank you for stopping in to comment on my review and join the little discussion we have going about your book here, Arletta. Yes, I found the book enjoyable, but I also think it’s an impressive achievement. I hope I conveyed that, as well. I posted the review on Amazon and Goodreads, too, and gave it five stars.

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