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Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself. In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family--and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.


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Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself. In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family--and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.

30 review for The Tie That Binds

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jaline

    There are a few facts that astound me about this novel. The first, is that this was Kent Haruf’s debut novel. The second, is that although it was “critically acclaimed”, apparently it was not a large commercial success. On the first point, this novel does not read like any debut novel I have read. Granted, many debuts are smashingly good. However, Kent Haruf doesn’t “do” smashing. He does subtle. And clear. And he makes each word count. Each sentence matters and when threaded together, they give There are a few facts that astound me about this novel. The first, is that this was Kent Haruf’s debut novel. The second, is that although it was “critically acclaimed”, apparently it was not a large commercial success. On the first point, this novel does not read like any debut novel I have read. Granted, many debuts are smashingly good. However, Kent Haruf doesn’t “do” smashing. He does subtle. And clear. And he makes each word count. Each sentence matters and when threaded together, they give his novels an authenticity that gives me chills when I read them. This, his first novel, did exactly that many times over. On the second point, I can’t help feeling sad that not only was Kent Haruf’s book writing cut short at the end of his sixth novel, but that his greatness wasn’t recognized until after he was gone. It also makes me wonder how his books completely passed me by until last year. On the other hand, better late than never and I hope that his writing continues to attract the readers and acclaim that have surged over the past several years. This book covers more than 80 years, and yet it is written so well that each character introduced takes on dimension. Each of the years written about allows us to be part of the struggles, the births, the growing, the deaths, the mourning, the fun – and funny incidents – and the daily lives of the characters. For me, Haruf’s writing framed all of it in a series of mental photographs that began to move together in one continuum, like heat waves shimmering over the pavement of a Colorado highway on the hottest day of summer. This story is about a woman born in 1897 and how she bent to the needs of her family time and again with an unshakable sense of responsibility, and without one iota of martyrdom attached. When she is 80 years old, she faces a murder charge, and the chasm between who she is and the life she led versus the viewpoint of the law is wider than the Grand Canyon. The narrator is her plain-spoken yet brilliantly eloquent closest neighbour and friend. If you have not yet read this book, I strongly recommend that you do, and that you listen carefully to what this man has to say. It is powerful and sensitive and genuine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    ****4.5 Stars****I’m saddened that this gifted writer is now gone. No one (to my knowledge) has written such eloquent and truthful tributes to the people who live and work out on the high plains of eastern Colorado where I grew up. This novel setting is Holt, Colorado, an imaginary farm town very near where my own family homesteaded. At times the story is heart wrenching and evocative. The author’s rich details of rural farm life and the connection with neighbors were spot-on and elegantly portra ****4.5 Stars****I’m saddened that this gifted writer is now gone. No one (to my knowledge) has written such eloquent and truthful tributes to the people who live and work out on the high plains of eastern Colorado where I grew up. This novel setting is Holt, Colorado, an imaginary farm town very near where my own family homesteaded. At times the story is heart wrenching and evocative. The author’s rich details of rural farm life and the connection with neighbors were spot-on and elegantly portrayed in this beautiful novel. Elements of the story resonate with me personally…undoubtedly because I’m the granddaughter of eastern Colorado dry land farmers… and my own parents (contemporaries of Edith and Lyman) lived their whole lives in that small farming community where I grew up. I found myself relating to and reminiscing with this narrator’s past recollections as they conjured up stories of my own family history. Edith Goodnough’s personal life is a gut-wrenching tale at times as she struggles to cope with the hardscrabble farm life (of the early 20th century) and the demands of a disabled, venomous and belligerent father. I was reminded of the main character in one of my favorite novels, Stoner. Both Edith and William Stoner persevered without complaint in the face of so much adversity. Sanders (Sandy) Roscoe, Edith’s sweet-natured, engaging neighbor and long-time friend is the narrator of this story. He begins his account in 1977 as an elderly Edith is recovering from injuries in a hospital…the door guarded by a deputy. The tale unfolds over 80 years in flashbacks to reveal a lifespan of tragic events for Edith (and her family) and which led up to her present difficulty. I absolutely love Kent Haruf’s style of writing…pared down, restrained and lyrical. This was his first novel (written in 1984) and confirms his potential as the writer he will become in his later masterpieces. Highly recommended!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    The Tie That Binds is my third novel by Kent Haruf and this is a beautifully written and deeply affecting story. Hypnotic in his storytelling, heartbreaking and a real page turner. This was Kent Haruf’s debut novel and what an engaging and haunting first novel it is, Set in the plains of Eastern Colorado in the early to mid 20th century The Tie that binds tells the story of an 80 year old Edith Goodnough, a woman from the American High plains who is charged with murder. Her neighbour Sanders Rosc The Tie That Binds is my third novel by Kent Haruf and this is a beautifully written and deeply affecting story. Hypnotic in his storytelling, heartbreaking and a real page turner. This was Kent Haruf’s debut novel and what an engaging and haunting first novel it is, Set in the plains of Eastern Colorado in the early to mid 20th century The Tie that binds tells the story of an 80 year old Edith Goodnough, a woman from the American High plains who is charged with murder. Her neighbour Sanders Roscoe recounts her story in a slow and captivating manner and because I listened to this one on audible the voice of Narrator Danny Campbell add an extra quality to the experience as his voice is just a pure treat to listen to and works especially well for this novel. Incredibly well drawn characters that just take hold of you and you read as if you are under a spell and not wanting this story to end. A tale which reflects on family and responsibility and the sacrifices that are made by the “Tie that binds”. With its frontier setting, compelling characters, harsh and vivid descriptions of farming life this is a story that is deep and heart wrenching and will stay with me for a long time. This is one of those books that I can highly recommend on audible and it would make a terrific book club read also.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    This is an incredibly mature work to be Haruf’s first novel, and a reminder of the author’s rare sensitivity to portray endurance, compassion and the silent but overpowering presence of the dry, plain lands of Colorado. Revisiting Holt was a moving experience for this humbled reader. Even if the characters of the Plainsong trilogy were absent I sensed their resilient, humble spirit in Edith Goodnough, the protagonist of this quiet but intense story. The plot is almost non-existent. After Edith’s m This is an incredibly mature work to be Haruf’s first novel, and a reminder of the author’s rare sensitivity to portray endurance, compassion and the silent but overpowering presence of the dry, plain lands of Colorado. Revisiting Holt was a moving experience for this humbled reader. Even if the characters of the Plainsong trilogy were absent I sensed their resilient, humble spirit in Edith Goodnough, the protagonist of this quiet but intense story. The plot is almost non-existent. After Edith’s mother dies, aged only 42, she has to take over all of her mother's chores and duties at the farm under the orders of her violent father, whose only priority is the farming and prosperity of his state. Further tragedy strikes and Edith becomes the prisoner of her own family, sacrificing her only chance at being happy in order to take care of her mangled father and weak-willed brother. The reader learns about Edith’s story through the eyes of Sandy Roscoe, the son of the only man she ever loved and the only neighbor in the surroundings of her isolated home. Haruf’s concept of “extended family” shines through for the first time in this novel, and Edith can at least bask in the company of her surrogate son, observing how he struggles to become the man his father would have been proud of. Reading Haruf brought my recent reading experience with McCarthy back to mind. The desolate, almost asphyxiating atmosphere that Haruf evokes in his novels is not so dissimilar to McCarthy’s ruthless vision of the world . But while Haruf keeps faith in the goodness of humanity, McCarthy seems to have lost all hope in mankind, and I can’t help but feel at home with the first and perturbed with the second. Haruf’s prose is subtle and sad. Beauty glimmers faintly between the silences and the austerity of a life devoted to others, to work, to fulfill the obligations imposed by the rules of a society where women don’t have a choice. Beauty flickers through the resilient spirit of a person like Edith Goodnough, a fighter and the bravest heroine I’ve come across in a while. Beauty is hidden deep, underneath all the pain, repressed yearning and mute desperation, discernible only to the few who look at the world like Edith does; with hope, patience and sympathy. A shame that most people can’t see the same, and that beautiful souls like hers end up tied to the heavy load of undeserved burdens.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    4.5 StarsIf you like well-developed characters and addictive stories, you'll love Kent Haruf as well as his first novel, THE TIE THAT BINDS.Neighbor and family friend Sanders Roscoe narrates the life story of 80 year old Edith Goodnough and how she came to be lying in a hospital bed accused of murder.Her long, unimaginable hard life is filled with tragedy and constant sacrifice as she lives with her wild exasperating father and thoughtless brother. Oh the life that might have been.......I just w 4.5 StarsIf you like well-developed characters and addictive stories, you'll love Kent Haruf as well as his first novel, THE TIE THAT BINDS.Neighbor and family friend Sanders Roscoe narrates the life story of 80 year old Edith Goodnough and how she came to be lying in a hospital bed accused of murder.Her long, unimaginable hard life is filled with tragedy and constant sacrifice as she lives with her wild exasperating father and thoughtless brother. Oh the life that might have been.......I just wanted to push Edith right out the door!Highly recommend this beautifully descriptive and powerful look at a woman of strength and labor-intensive farm life in Holt, Colorado. (sad I only have two more Haruf novels left to read)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A worthy finish to my reading adventures with Haruf's six novels about rural life in Colorado. Here we get a vision of the tragic life of Edith as the daughter of a selfish, stubborn, and mean spirited farmer in the high and dry plains of eastern Colorado. It is told from the perspective of Roscoe, a neighbor friend who also grew up in this hardscrabble life of farming and whose father once loved the warm and tough Edith. But a terrible accident makes Edith's father forever dependent on her help A worthy finish to my reading adventures with Haruf's six novels about rural life in Colorado. Here we get a vision of the tragic life of Edith as the daughter of a selfish, stubborn, and mean spirited farmer in the high and dry plains of eastern Colorado. It is told from the perspective of Roscoe, a neighbor friend who also grew up in this hardscrabble life of farming and whose father once loved the warm and tough Edith. But a terrible accident makes Edith's father forever dependent on her help, which became even more necessary when her beloved but mentally challenged brother makes an escape to travel the U.S., with only postcards to mark his existence over the decades. Roscoe, despite being reviled by Edith's father for being part Indian, finds a way to connect with Edith during the long passage of time, finding much courage in her steadfast sacrifice of her life for the "ties that bind". Now he has a chance to help her, which we learn at the beginning of the book has something to do with Edith in her 80s being a suspect in the suspicious death of her father. A dark tale for sure, but one that heralds the grace and bravery of certain folk who survived the tough realities of farming life on the Great Plains.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I loved this. It was Kent Haruf's very first novel, and I think his best. Oh why did he have to die?! He died on November 30, 2014 at the age of seventy-one. "Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon." Really, you don't need to know anything else. These four sentences I loved this. It was Kent Haruf's very first novel, and I think his best. Oh why did he have to die?! He died on November 30, 2014 at the age of seventy-one. "Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon." Really, you don't need to know anything else. These four sentences are the perfect introduction to this book. They are the first four sentences of the GR book description. Having read those lines, don’t you have to know how that sack of chicken feed and a milky-eyed dog can prove anything? The story is told to us by Edith's neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. It is he that knows better than anyone else all that has happened, not merely the calamitous events of the preceding three and a half months but also the events of the years before. This is less a mystery story than a story about one woman's life. All is explained clearly and simply. All is presented in chronological order. Dates are given. When a person is mentioned for the first time we are always told all that is important to know about that person. Sanders Roscoe wants us to understand and so he speaks clearly. And he speaks from his heart because that of which he is speaking is important and must be understood correctly. The tale itself is gripping; melodrama does not need to be added. There are no literary tricks in the presentation. This is so utterly refreshing! Real life is presented--the rigors of a farming life on the high plains of Colorado. It is the details of the life described that make the story ring true, be it the milking of cows in winter, a country fair or a meal for two served under an elm. Horrible things happen and good things too. The events as they unfold seem so real and so believable that you do not want to stop until you have heard every little detail. At the end, even when you pretty much know what is going to happen, you sit there transfixed. There is humor. It is the humor that makes us laugh in ordinary life. We recognize thoughts we too have thought. We laugh at lines in dialogs that capture what people really do say to each other. No, not remarkable, sophisticated or particularly witty humor; instead the humor of everyday life. I could not put this book down until I reached the very end. Captivating writing without fancy frills. The audiobook is superbly narrated by Danny Campbell. He is sitting on a chair there next to you telling you what happened. The gruffness of his voice perfectly matches Sanders Roscoe. It is simple to follow and a delight to listen to. ******************* The Tie That Binds 5 stars Our Souls at Night 4 stars Plainsong 4 stars Eventide 4 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    The ties of family are bound by blood.  Responsibility, taking up the slack, doing what is necessary to keep things going regardless of the toll it exacts.  It all comes through here in Holt, Colorado.  This type of richness achieved with such simplicity was Haruf's own special talent. The ties of family are bound by blood.  Responsibility, taking up the slack, doing what is necessary to keep things going regardless of the toll it exacts.  It all comes through here in Holt, Colorado.  This type of richness achieved with such simplicity was Haruf's own special talent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    Kent Haruf is high on my list of favorite authors and 'The Tie That Binds' is the fourth of his novels that I have read. Each time I lose myself in one of Mr. Haruf's novels, I struggle to express just what it is about his novels that never fails to so deeply move me. The novels, which take place in fictional Holt on the eastern plains of Colorado, demonstrate the bleakness of that barren land. Yet somehow, through Mr. Haruf's spare and poetic language, I can still see the beauty HE finds in tha Kent Haruf is high on my list of favorite authors and 'The Tie That Binds' is the fourth of his novels that I have read. Each time I lose myself in one of Mr. Haruf's novels, I struggle to express just what it is about his novels that never fails to so deeply move me. The novels, which take place in fictional Holt on the eastern plains of Colorado, demonstrate the bleakness of that barren land. Yet somehow, through Mr. Haruf's spare and poetic language, I can still see the beauty HE finds in that harsh landscape. But I think what appeals to me most about Kent Haruf's novels is the richness of his characters. The title of this book, I think, is particularly significant and has left me pondering the meaning of the words 'duty' and 'devotion'. What exactly IS our duty to the people which make up our families? And what quality is it that certain people have which compels them to take on the responsibility of duty and devotion to such an extent that they seem willing to sacrifice their OWN lives and potential for self-fulfillment, without regret and bitterness? The story begins at the hospital bedside of 80 year-old Edith Goodnough. Although this is the story of the Goodnough family (Edith in particular), Edith is NOT the narrator of her story. The story is told by neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. Sanders is the middle-aged son of John Roscoe, a man who had played an important role in Edith Goodnough's life. From the first page, Sanders makes clear that Edith, in the hospital after a tragic fire at her family's farm, has been charged with murder. Who was Edith accused of murdering? Well. you'll have to read the book to discover that. But to understand how this 80 year-old woman came to be in a hospital bed guarded by a police officer, you need to gain an understanding of the Goodnough family history… and this is where Sanders Roscoe begins the story. Edith Goodnough was the first born child of Roy and Ada Goodnough, who migrated west to Holt, Colorado from Cedar County, Iowa in 1896. I'm not sure what Roy and Ada were expecting of their new life in the eastern plains of Colorado, but life was extremely hard.. the kind of hard life that can crush the spirit. Ada was never a hearty woman with a strong constitution so the life which she discovered in Holt was especially difficult for her. She gave birth to two children… Edith and Lyman.. and with each passing year, Ada seemed to disappear a little more. As Sanders Roscoe described… " So in the family album, while Edith and Lyman are growing up, their mother, Ada, seems to be sinking down. In one picture after another, she looks smaller, shorter, thinner. Her cheeks suck into bone, her thin brown hair turns to sparse gray…. By 1913,in what must be the last picture taken of her… Ada looks like she might be her husband's mother…." Finally, Ada passed away in 1914, leaving behind her barely adolescent aged son and daughter… leaving them behind with their father Roy, a harsh,tyrannical man who seemed to regard his wife and children as merely chattel, certainly NEVER cherished members of his family. The death of a mother is a traumatic event for any child but for Edith and Lyman it was probably the event that defined the rest of their lives. This was particularly true for Edith. She was quickly thrust into her mother's position in the family, needing to take on her mother's responsibilities AND trying to protect Lyman as much as she could from Roy's wrath. There was no more education for Edith… her days were filled with backbreaking chores and responsibilities. The years went by and despite her hardships, Edith also possessed a cherished dream or two. She had fallen in love with John Roscoe, a young man from a neighboring farm; and for the first time in her life, she began to dream of a future… one that belonged solely to her. Dreams are what give people hope.. dreams perhaps of a future much different from the life they are currently experiencing. Dreams give meaning and they are what allow people to carry on through tremendous adversity. Edith's dreams were what gave HER hope…. that is until the day of a horrific accident on the farm. It turned out to be an accident that seemed only to remind Edith of her duty and obligations to her father and brother and their farm. Edith told herself that her dream of marrying John Roscoe had simply been just that.. a dream. It wouldn't have worked out anyway because Lyman truly NEEDED her.. she was the only buffer standing between Lyman and her father's anger and harsh cruelty. With her dreams deferred, Edith settled into the life she had always known, helping with the farm and caring for Lyman and Roy. John Roscoe went on to marry another woman and had a son; and finally, Lyman was able to work up his courage and he escaped from his father and the crushing hardship of farm work. Edith… well, she was left alone with Roy and she waited… and waited, only looking forward to the picture postcards which Lyman sent to her to announce his travels across the country in his new Pontiac. Edith lived vicariously through Lyman and his travels and still she waited. As Sanders again described.. "… Edith Goodnough stayed home. And if you figure it up; if you do your arithmetic from those chiseled dates in the cemetery, then you know that Edith was seventeen when her mother died in 1914; she was fifty-five when the old man died; and she was sixty-four when Lyman finally returned. It amounts to a lifetime of staying home." With Roy dead and Lyman back on the farm, you're probably wondering if Edith finally had the opportunity to create a life of her own… one which didn't include suffocating responsibilities. Well NO.. no she did NOT. Fate seemed particularly cruel to Edith Goodnough. But the amazing thing about this story and this character is that I could never really think of Edith as a tragic figure. Her life appeared grueling and confining but she was never a woman who gave in to self-pity. I can't say she seemed particularly happy; but she did possess a quality, which maybe in her difficult life was more important. She carried about her an air of if not contentment, then certainly one of acceptance. Her life was simply HER life.. it was the life that was given to her and she didn't seem to spend any time railing against it or questioning it. I can't say that Edith's story ends well but what you WILL see is that, in the end, Edith made a choice that ultimately loosens the ties that have bound her for her entire life. Whichever way things go, Edith will finally be free. It seems to me that those 'ties that bind' can be constructed of love, loyalty and devotion which LOOSELY keep us connected to family; or they can be constructed of steel, which end up crushing us.. crushing our spirits. It was fascinating to see just which outcome Edith ultimately chose.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    4.5 stars, rounded down. Kent Haruf wrote quiet novels. Nothing spectacular happens to his characters, but life happens to them, just as it does to us all, and it happens to them with so much reality that it is both shocking and recognizable. The title of his first novel, The Tie That Binds, evokes images of love and loyalty and family bonding, but what he delivers is a reminder that bindings are restraints and homes can be prisons. Edith Goodnough finds herself bound to a family and a hard farm 4.5 stars, rounded down. Kent Haruf wrote quiet novels. Nothing spectacular happens to his characters, but life happens to them, just as it does to us all, and it happens to them with so much reality that it is both shocking and recognizable. The title of his first novel, The Tie That Binds, evokes images of love and loyalty and family bonding, but what he delivers is a reminder that bindings are restraints and homes can be prisons. Edith Goodnough finds herself bound to a family and a hard farm that drain her, steal her life, and demand what must seem like too much sacrifice to anyone who has escaped her fate. She is beautifully strong and resilient; she finds her joys where she can find them, where, perhaps, few of us would be able to find them, in similar circumstances. The story is told by Edith’s neighbor, Sanders Roscoe, a much younger man whose life has been entwined to hers by a father who knew her from her birth. Edith’s story is more poignant coming from Sanders, because he can tell it with sympathy and understanding, while a first person Edith would never allow herself either the pity or the explanation. When we meet her, she is an 80 year old woman, lying in a hospital bed, with an accusation of murder hanging over her head. As I read The Tie That Binds, I kept thinking of the immortal words of John Donne--”No man is an island, entire of itself.” So true, even for Edith, and yet so much of life can be led from inside, in isolation, in agony. Edith Goodnough lives such a life. So, Haruf has managed what is almost impossible. He has shown us how tightly we are linked to the other people in our lives and, at the same time, shown us how disconnected an individual can be from everyone around them. While I would still rank Plainsong as Haruf’s masterpiece, few authors begin their careers with something as powerful as this novel. Few men understand the dynamics of farm life in close-knit but wide-spread communities in the early 20th Century so well. Few authors know how to plumb the depths of the human experience in a simple tale of a simple life, a Haruf does.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    He can sure write old folks. And younger folks, and flinty ones that don’t do so good, weak ones that wish they could, bitter ones that are helpless to be anything else. This is just the way it is. Here is life. He illuminates grace in hidden corners.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    If it is possible to write a gloriously entertaining story about the agony of being stuck, including horrible physical violence, Haruf did it. It starts as a funny tall tale, and keeps that flavor and structure, but oh how real it becomes! Mr. Haruf, wherever you are in the afterlife ether, I hope you can see me giving you a standing ovation and hear me cheering my damned head off.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laysee

    The "tie that binds" has connotations that are positive. Family. Love. Support. Loyalty. Acceptance. Rest. It speaks to me of life-affirming bonds that bring gladness of heart and sustenance through good and bad times. These were the expectations I entertained from the book title, and I could not be more sorely mistaken. Alas, “blest be the ties that bind” is not always true. In this novel set in Holt, Colorado, Kent Haruf offers an additional dimension that is unsettling. The tie that binds is o The "tie that binds" has connotations that are positive. Family. Love. Support. Loyalty. Acceptance. Rest. It speaks to me of life-affirming bonds that bring gladness of heart and sustenance through good and bad times. These were the expectations I entertained from the book title, and I could not be more sorely mistaken. Alas, “blest be the ties that bind” is not always true. In this novel set in Holt, Colorado, Kent Haruf offers an additional dimension that is unsettling. The tie that binds is overwhelmingly irresistible in its power to enslave, stifle, cripple, and destroy. A sense of duty, while an honorable quality, can rob a long-suffering family member of his or her own life because s/he lives in subservience to those with whom that life is bound. It is a story told in Haruf’s inimitable style that reflects an honest and empathic understanding of the myriad shades of motivation that fuel human interactions. The tragedy of this story is about the ties that cannot be broken. The story is predominantly sad but there are lighter moments when the clouds lift and laughter is savored for its rarity. (view spoiler)[Edith Goodnough, an 80-year-old woman, is lying frail on a hospital bed but she is to be tried in court for an accident or a “deliberate act” of evil. The story is narrated by Sandy (Sanders) Roscoe, a close family friend and son of the man she loved and would have married if her life circumstances were different. Sandy engages the reader in a second person dialogue as he unravels the life events that led up to new year’s eve of 1976 when Lyman, Edith’s 77-year-old brother, died. Sandy’s tone is one of indignation and pity as he peels off the years the locusts have eaten in Edith’s incredibly hard and lonely life. It is almost impossible not to wish for Edith that she had broken the tie that binds. Edith and Lyman are farm kids in the early 1900s and obliged to work the family farm after their father (Roy) becomes incapacitated in a farm accident. If they have been city kids, their lives would have been different. They could have moved across town, "start their life over or end it, but whatever happened, at least the ties would have been cut, the limits of home would have been broken." But this is not the case and the consequences are heart-breaking. Roy, the Goodnoughs' father, is foul-tempered, abusive and punitive. He has a tight-fisted control over his children; there is no escape from his vampirish hold over them. Edith has an "iron sense of duty" and spends her entire life, single, tending to the farm, feeding and dressing her father whose fingers have been crushed to hamburger mush. Then right after Pearl Habor (December 1941) and under the pretext of contributing to the war effort, 42-year-old Lyman leaves home to tour cities and "take pleasure". He returns only twenty years later. Edith lives an abjectly lonely existence, taking the daily brunt of her father’s irascibility and the back-breaking labor of tending the ranch. Her meager happiness is receiving postcards from Lyman. John Roscoe, her childhood friend and the love of her life, looks out for her even after he has reluctantly married another woman, and tries to shield Edith as much as he is able from her father’s unreasonable demands. In time to come, it is his son, Sandy, who shares his father’s love for this kindly woman, and jealously keeps watch over her. Lyman returns from his wandering in 1961. He is no longer willing to do the work of a farmer. For six years after Lyman's return, however, Edith has some of her best years but she is already 64. There are hints that Edith and Lyman have an unnatural relationship. They share a bed in childhood as well as in adulthood. Then an accident leaves Lyman with what appears to be traumatic brain injury, and he becomes a cranky child that Edith has to take care of for the next ten years. Finally, Edith puts an end to their mutual suffering the best way she can. We are not told if the trial eventually takes place. But I guess it no longer matters. (hide spoiler)] In Haruf’s conception of life in Holt, Colorado, not just in this novel but also in “Plainsong” and “Eventide”, the tie that binds and matters is typically not familial. It is often forged among neighborly folks and friends who care about each other, who become family and are there, come hell or high water. “The Tie That Binds” once again celebrates the sure shelter of a good friendship - “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Published in 1984, “The Tie That Binds” received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. It is almost New Year’s Eve and I cannot think of another writer with whom I wish to end my reading year in 2016.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Will have to think on this....review to come. I was introduced to Haruf by my husband and starting with his later books, he instantly became one of my favorites of all times. So I had to go back to where it all started. This story was much more somber and dark than some of his later books. He still details the hard life of his characters but with the Goodnough family I found no joy. In other works of his, no matter how trying the lives are there is always a sense of promise for something better Will have to think on this....review to come. I was introduced to Haruf by my husband and starting with his later books, he instantly became one of my favorites of all times. So I had to go back to where it all started. This story was much more somber and dark than some of his later books. He still details the hard life of his characters but with the Goodnough family I found no joy. In other works of his, no matter how trying the lives are there is always a sense of promise for something better and from the beginning of this story I knew there would be no such outcome. There was not. From the start I knew I had entered into the small community of Holt, Colorado. Life was very simple and secrets were well kept, disappointments hidden. Life was hard and your neighbors and community were everything. Sadly, Edith Goodnough watched her opportunities for any happiness slip through her fingers year after year until there were none left. This is her story. Sad and haunting. Haruf has the ability to create real and layered characters, ones which we are able to identify as people we have met in life. His descriptive writing and simple dialogue are masterful. The one thing I did not care for as much in this book was that it was told from a third point of view, and I never felt I heard Edith's voice out loud. In later books the reader is privy to the insights of multiple characters and I missed that here. Is he still one of my favorites? Oh yes, and I am so saddened that his voice has been silenced by his death. I will miss the people he has introduced me to.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Haruf's humble characters resonate with authenticity. Haruf's characters are so real, so genuine and alive that the reader can't help but develop an empathy for them that is rare in fiction today. This is a spare, harsh novel about "the tie that binds" - which in this book is family. But in this case, the tie does not just bind, but almost strangles Edith, the central character. She is tied by obligation and a sort of love that defines her life. Haruf never allow her to put her desires or needs Haruf's humble characters resonate with authenticity. Haruf's characters are so real, so genuine and alive that the reader can't help but develop an empathy for them that is rare in fiction today. This is a spare, harsh novel about "the tie that binds" - which in this book is family. But in this case, the tie does not just bind, but almost strangles Edith, the central character. She is tied by obligation and a sort of love that defines her life. Haruf never allow her to put her desires or needs above those of her father and brother. The characters are incredibly well-drawn and so very real. Although I was able to feel the despair of Edith's life, I never felt sorry for her, mainly because Haruf never had her express or show any self-pity. She just did what had to be done, day after day, year after year. Haruf certainly has a gift for causing the reader to have intense feelings about those who populate his books and for evoking the starkness of the Colorado plains. I read the following review on another venue and loved it -- I felt very much this way while reading this book and had to copy it: "…..The environment Haruf created is philosophically a deterministic naturalistic setting from whose grasp, the characters and the reader cannot escape. We are all 'stuck!' Never mind that the details of life in rural America are so graphic at times that I was repulsed as I read of it; never mind that the narrator, Sandy, is a pessimistic observer, and he is the one from whom I was handed the lurid, sickening details. And never mind that Haruf plopped my busy behind in a chair across the table from Sandy, behind a cup of coffee, and that Sandy made direct address to me throughout the accounting of the story within a story. Edith, the old woman around whom the story evolves remained suspended with an IV in the back of her hand, in the hospital, (the story)while Sandy and I drank coffee and he told me the truth (the story within). Because despite Sandy's negative views, despite his railing against 'outrageous fortune' and his fellow man, I came to know him as a good and loving man, fallible, human (sometimes weak), and vulnerable. From his view, the story unfolded, the characters became round and full, and their lives endured; thus, I, the reader, suffered the tragedies and, as Haruf dunked my head in the stench of it until my 'self' that demanded justice above all other values, could hardly breathe. All my senses were engaged, saturated until I could see, smell, taste, feel, and touch the unyielding, undeserved pain of the lives of the characters with my sensibility and sympathy, but I seldom 'enjoyed' the experience though I could not '...put the book down.' I knew the characters and the setting intimately. I came to love their world and to love them, especially to understand them, often to admire them. And so, I suffered heartbreak on their behalf." Haruf is an amazing author.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Kent Haruf is a brilliant storyteller. He always manage to find the extraordinary within ordinary people living quiet lives. There’s always something beautiful and tragic that happens and it should be downright depressing, yet I find myself completely immersed in the lives of his characters, feeling genuine empathy, rooting for them to turn around a terrible situation. I should know by now that a Haruf novel is going to make me cry at least once and The Tie That Binds was no exception. Edith Good Kent Haruf is a brilliant storyteller. He always manage to find the extraordinary within ordinary people living quiet lives. There’s always something beautiful and tragic that happens and it should be downright depressing, yet I find myself completely immersed in the lives of his characters, feeling genuine empathy, rooting for them to turn around a terrible situation. I should know by now that a Haruf novel is going to make me cry at least once and The Tie That Binds was no exception. Edith Goodnough has lived her entire eighty years within the four walls of the home built by her cruel father on the plains of Colorado. She has spent each year of her life sacrificing in some way for her family and she has done so without complaint. Now Edith is in a hospital bed, a police officer stationed just outside. If she recovers, she will stand trial for murder. Her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe, shares Edith’s story - every tragedy, every sacrifice, and eventually her one single attempt at freedom - while explaining her impact on his life, with genuine awe. The Tie That Binds explores the complicated bonds of family, the tenacity of the human spirit, and the sacrifices we make in order to give those we love a chance to rise. This is a quiet but powerful tale of an ordinary woman’s life and Haruf’s writing is once again simple and eloquent at the same time. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    ...because when you know people all your life you try to understand how it is for them. What you can't understand you just accept. 3.5 stars. I love the Plainsong series, and whenever I want to read something that will settle me down and take me to a less rushed time and place I reach for one of Kent Haruf's books. The Tie That Binds did just that, but I have to admit that I preferred the aforementioned series, probably because it has a wider cast for him to introduce us to. That said I adore his ...because when you know people all your life you try to understand how it is for them. What you can't understand you just accept. 3.5 stars. I love the Plainsong series, and whenever I want to read something that will settle me down and take me to a less rushed time and place I reach for one of Kent Haruf's books. The Tie That Binds did just that, but I have to admit that I preferred the aforementioned series, probably because it has a wider cast for him to introduce us to. That said I adore his gentle way of telling a story, the writing slowly drags you away from your real life. There is nothing "sweet" about his books, the characters are fully formed, and their lives are difficult. I'm so sad that I only have two books left, I'll have to keep them for emergencies. The Story: In The Tie That Binds, his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough. Narrated by her neighbour, Edith's tragedies unfold: a tough childhood, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. She is a woman who sacrifices everything in the name of family - until she is forced to reclaim her freedom in one dramatic and unexpected gesture.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    4 stars. I love the way Kent writes and enjoyed reading until about the half way point when It became clear that the lives and tale being played out were only going to worsen and the ongoing depressing storyline became tedious to experience. Eventually, I pretty much wanted to wrap up the actual book the way it ended. Four stars is supposed to mean 'really liked it' but I didn't. Yet I cannot give it less. He was a wonderful writer. His descriptions of the unrelenting hardness of farming made me 4 stars. I love the way Kent writes and enjoyed reading until about the half way point when It became clear that the lives and tale being played out were only going to worsen and the ongoing depressing storyline became tedious to experience. Eventually, I pretty much wanted to wrap up the actual book the way it ended. Four stars is supposed to mean 'really liked it' but I didn't. Yet I cannot give it less. He was a wonderful writer. His descriptions of the unrelenting hardness of farming made me see why my mother and aunt left the one they grew up on as soon as they turned 18. His description of what it's really like milking cows 24/7 put me right there in the barn. My romantic idea of living on a farm is forever laid to rest.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gisela

    I've been totally smitten with Kent Haruf since reading "Our Souls at Night" and only have a couple more books to go before I run out of Haruf books to read. I'm grieving already. Might have to re-read each of them. No doubt that, like all great books, they'll be even more rewarding in the course of a second read because I'll be able to appreciate connections between events and characters that may not have had the same significance in my first reading. And they'll be all the richer because they I've been totally smitten with Kent Haruf since reading "Our Souls at Night" and only have a couple more books to go before I run out of Haruf books to read. I'm grieving already. Might have to re-read each of them. No doubt that, like all great books, they'll be even more rewarding in the course of a second read because I'll be able to appreciate connections between events and characters that may not have had the same significance in my first reading. And they'll be all the richer because they are all set in the same fictional town of Holt, Colorado, and because of the interconnections between characters not just within a book but between all(?) of his books. Like all of Haruf's books "The Tie That Binds" was totally engaging but heart-breaking. His depiction of place is outstanding. I'm not normally one who's big on description (of people or scenery) but Haruf seems to have a Goldilocks sense for how much description is "j...u...s...t right". He also has an uncanny ability to tell raw and painful stories without dragging me into the depths of depression. Maybe some people do find his books depressing. I don't. Perhaps because Haruf always ensures there are characters like John Roscoe (and his son, Sanders, as well as Edith Goodnough) who radiate goodness, love, and emotional intelligence in contrast to the almost mythically cold, cruel and mean-spirited nature of characters like Edith's father, Roy. And nearly always, Haruf gives such great context to his characters' actions and behaviour that we *almost* understand why they are the way they are. Chronology and point of view Although the story opens in 1977, Haruf takes us right back to the late 19th century in a series of extended flashbacks, and gives us a richly detailed account of hard life that many of the dry land farmers of that era had to deal with. [To be continued ...]

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Rhythm of Holt Colorado during the late 19th and throughout the majority of the 20th century for two farmsteads/family lines that are neighbors. Kent Haruf's exquisite writing style spread across nearly a century of the everyday for the characters from these two home groups. These stories of life experiences are poignant and heart-wrenching. It's just so bottom rung sad and shyness equates to intense lonely isolation, almost without a fully conscious cognition for what evolves. Except perhaps by Rhythm of Holt Colorado during the late 19th and throughout the majority of the 20th century for two farmsteads/family lines that are neighbors. Kent Haruf's exquisite writing style spread across nearly a century of the everyday for the characters from these two home groups. These stories of life experiences are poignant and heart-wrenching. It's just so bottom rung sad and shyness equates to intense lonely isolation, almost without a fully conscious cognition for what evolves. Except perhaps by default for physical/bodily evidence of time passing and practical work that MUST be served! Always the obligations, and that "other choice" of outside or away slipping further and further apart or beyond possibility for Edith? It was so intensely dire that for me it was 3.5 stars rounded up for the incredible natural world style and characterizations of the men's cores. With Edith, not as much. You know her only by her "staying" and result. By her limited language of outside response, just the section of her knowing she wills to explain. But his Holt is iconic. Not my favorite Haruf; six years of "joy" while living 80 more of misery. Suffering, sad.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Many famous writers dance around you when you crack the cover of a Kent Haruf novel, but I don't mean to suggest that he's not his own man, his own writer. It's just obvious that he has a high literary aptitude coupled with a unique talent to tell a story, and tell it well. I have, in an earlier review, compared his style to that of John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers, respectively. But, here in his debut novel, I also felt the force of other great influences: Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Wa Many famous writers dance around you when you crack the cover of a Kent Haruf novel, but I don't mean to suggest that he's not his own man, his own writer. It's just obvious that he has a high literary aptitude coupled with a unique talent to tell a story, and tell it well. I have, in an earlier review, compared his style to that of John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers, respectively. But, here in his debut novel, I also felt the force of other great influences: Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Wallace Stegner, to name a few. I feel cheered by his ability to write in such a classic, yet modern way, and it fills me with hope to find that the best writers are not, indeed, all cold in the ground. I still suggest his novel, Eventide, as his best work, but this was a great and perfectly readable first novel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    I loved everything about this book. I have never read Kent Haruf before but now I have to read all his others.

  23. 5 out of 5

    debra

    4.5 Read Carol's truly wonderful review of this novel! The last paragraph of her review exquisitely and perfectly describes the feelings I also have about this author's work. 4.5 Read Carol's truly wonderful review of this novel! The last paragraph of her review exquisitely and perfectly describes the feelings I also have about this author's work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Q

    The Tie that binds -Kent Haruf. In 1999 I read Kent Haruf’s Plainsong and he became a favorite author of mine. It was a wonderful story about two elder bachelor rancher brothers taking in a pregnant teen that needed a place to live. It was set in factious Holt, Colorado. Faulkner was one of Haruf’s favorite writers and influenced his creation of Holt. Holt was the home of the 5 of the 6 books I’ve read. He wrote 6 before his death in 2014. They all have a sense of place and deep connection to th The Tie that binds -Kent Haruf. In 1999 I read Kent Haruf’s Plainsong and he became a favorite author of mine. It was a wonderful story about two elder bachelor rancher brothers taking in a pregnant teen that needed a place to live. It was set in factious Holt, Colorado. Faulkner was one of Haruf’s favorite writers and influenced his creation of Holt. Holt was the home of the 5 of the 6 books I’ve read. He wrote 6 before his death in 2014. They all have a sense of place and deep connection to the earth. Holt is in the CO High plains where there are lots of cows and some wheat fields. The Tie That Binds, his first book, was written in 1984. Raymond Carver was also a favorite writer of his and the author’s simple writing style was influenced by him, yet it’s unique to him. This being his first book his writing style is in process. It’s not the same as his latter books. Reading this book I felt the seeds of his writing style emerging here. It was cool. Simple writing is not easy. It is the wonderful characters he created, his writing style and his deep understanding of people that made me a fan. I read his last 4 books as they were published. I was surprised a few days back when I learned that he had written 2 earlier books and I hadn’t read/them. I jumped at the chance to hear one of his stories again. “Ties” is the Goodnough family saga. It starts with Edith’s parents marriage around the turn into the 20th century and their travels from Iowa to Holt and farming the land; it covers about a 100 years. It’s ambitious for a first book. And modern despite the time frame. It’s a great story. The book starts with Edith’s nearest neighbor, Sanders Roscoe, a middle aged man of Cherokee descent, telling us the story. 80 year old Edith Goodnough is in the hospital and charged with a murder. His father had been in love with Edith. And she with him. He asked her to marry him but she said no. She chooses to sacrifice her own happiness for her family. There are good reasons why. And as the story unfolds we learn why. I will say The Goodnough family men are “quite” the characters. I’ve never met any like them before. Edith circumstances in life weren’t easy. Her and her brother were born in the depression era. There’s lots of change in the world during the 100 years of the saga and it’s very subtlety felt at the Goodnough’s homestead. And mostly felt through her brothers late blooming. Edith is a lovely character; good hearted and loving despite it all. The story brings up some ethical issues. And after closing the book I’m still thinking about how I would of handled them. Life’s choices aren’t always easy. The author does a very good job of putting us inEdith’s shoes so we walk away understanding her choice. As a last comment: One of my joys reading this book, was how the plot kept opening. Often it was in unusual and/or unexpected ways and sometimes there were difficult people or situations. I wonder where this all thei creativity and plot came from? Was it all Kent Haruf’s imagination? And if so I’m envious. I felt underlying this book was a creative spirit; alive and flowing. I’ve never felt that in this way before reading a book. There’s just something about it. It was a very good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debby

    This is Kent Haruf's debut novel written in 1984. I figured snce I've read and really enjoyed his third and fourth books, I'd check out his first book. Boy am I glad I did! The book opens with 80-year-old Edith Goodnaugh lying in a hospital bed and guarded by police as she has been chargged with murder. On the basis of what evidence? Who died? What happened? The Tie That Binds is the life story of Edith Goodnaugh, her brother and her parents. It's the story of decisions and choices made by Edith This is Kent Haruf's debut novel written in 1984. I figured snce I've read and really enjoyed his third and fourth books, I'd check out his first book. Boy am I glad I did! The book opens with 80-year-old Edith Goodnaugh lying in a hospital bed and guarded by police as she has been chargged with murder. On the basis of what evidence? Who died? What happened? The Tie That Binds is the life story of Edith Goodnaugh, her brother and her parents. It's the story of decisions and choices made by Edith or for Edith for the sake of "family". In the end, was her last decision for "family" or for "freedom"? The setting of The Tie That Binds is Holt, Colorado, the same small town setting of his other books. Edith's story is told from the perspective of her next-door neighbor Sanders Roscoe, whose father played a central part in Edith's life when they were young, till "family" had a say in it. Her life of sacrifice is staggering, yet she remained throughout her life quite a phenomenal woman; but a woman with burdens, heartaches and lost dreams. The Tie That Binds is captivating and haunting. As in the other two books I've read by Haruf, the pace and style of the book is simple, but his characters are profoundly moving. I've read three of Haruf's four books and I'd highly recommend them all. I will be reading his current soon!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The Tie That Binds is Haruf's first book and Wow! what I wouldn't give to write that well. For all intents and purposes, I read this in two sittings. It is the story of the Goodnough family: Roy, Ada, Lyman and Edith as told by their neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. The book begins with a Denver reporter trying to cajole the backstory of kindly, 80-year old, Edith's murder charge from Sanders. That is all I'm going to tell you, read the book if you want to know the rest. Haruf's subject matter and writi The Tie That Binds is Haruf's first book and Wow! what I wouldn't give to write that well. For all intents and purposes, I read this in two sittings. It is the story of the Goodnough family: Roy, Ada, Lyman and Edith as told by their neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. The book begins with a Denver reporter trying to cajole the backstory of kindly, 80-year old, Edith's murder charge from Sanders. That is all I'm going to tell you, read the book if you want to know the rest. Haruf's subject matter and writing remind me of a big kettle of Steinbeck's, Stegner's and Ivan Doig's writing all stirred up into a tasty brew of storytelling. If you don't like at least two of those authors, I doubt you would like this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    80-year old Edith is in the hospital with a police guard outside her door. Her “young” neighbour and friend, Sandy, describes her life – as he heard via his father (who was once in love with her) and from as long as he’s known her – leading up to what happened to find her where she is now. I really liked this. It’s not fast moving, but the beginning sure had me wondering what happened. This is very much like his other books, though. Not a page-turner, but the characters are so well-done that you 80-year old Edith is in the hospital with a police guard outside her door. Her “young” neighbour and friend, Sandy, describes her life – as he heard via his father (who was once in love with her) and from as long as he’s known her – leading up to what happened to find her where she is now. I really liked this. It’s not fast moving, but the beginning sure had me wondering what happened. This is very much like his other books, though. Not a page-turner, but the characters are so well-done that you care about them and want to know what happens.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    This story is tragic, but not completely dark. Edith Goodnough makes a decision early in life to sacrifice herself to her father and her brother, which leads to another very shocking decision late in life. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the narrator her neighbor Sanders Roscoe, Edith had another option when she was a young woman. But she didn't see it that way. And the reasons I say the story isn't completely dark are because Edith lives out her decision with such beautiful dignity and int This story is tragic, but not completely dark. Edith Goodnough makes a decision early in life to sacrifice herself to her father and her brother, which leads to another very shocking decision late in life. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the narrator her neighbor Sanders Roscoe, Edith had another option when she was a young woman. But she didn't see it that way. And the reasons I say the story isn't completely dark are because Edith lives out her decision with such beautiful dignity and integrity and because Sanders SEES her. He understands her decision, respects it even though he disagrees, and stands by her as a friend throughout his life. Similar to another book I read by this same author, the hard choices and tragic events of our lives are dignified and, in a way sanctified, by the faithfulness and acknowledgement of friends. Haruf does an excellent job of portraying what people on the coasts call "flyover country," that middle part of American where unglamorous people live plain, dignified, hard, unglamorous lives. This is the second of his books that I've read and I will definitely read more. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kimbofo

    Set in the high plains of Colorado, just seven miles from the fictional town of Holt which features in all of Haruf’s novels, the book tells the tale of a pioneering farming family, the patriarch of which is a rather angry, embittered man called Roy Goodnough who comes from Iowa. But the story is not about Roy per se nor his delicate wife, Ada, but his daughter, Edith, who is born on the farm and spends her entire life on it, never having had the opportunity to marry or even leave home. When the Set in the high plains of Colorado, just seven miles from the fictional town of Holt which features in all of Haruf’s novels, the book tells the tale of a pioneering farming family, the patriarch of which is a rather angry, embittered man called Roy Goodnough who comes from Iowa. But the story is not about Roy per se nor his delicate wife, Ada, but his daughter, Edith, who is born on the farm and spends her entire life on it, never having had the opportunity to marry or even leave home. When the book opens she’s 80 years old, lying in hospital on an IV drip, with a police guard at the door. She’s been charged with murder, but the reader doesn’t know who she’s murdered — or why. That’s where our narrator comes in to fill the gaps. To read my review in full, please visit my blog.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Set in the plains of Colorado from the early 1900s to 1977, Kent Haruf’s The Tie that Binds is a beautiful story of real life, real people, and real meaning imparted by genuine relationships. Sanders Roscoe drives a Denver newspaper reporter away from his door in fury, but he welcomes the reader into his home where he tells an enthralling story of life on the American Plains—in particular, he tells of a woman called Edith who lies in hospital bed, charged unexpectedly with murder. Sandy’s father Set in the plains of Colorado from the early 1900s to 1977, Kent Haruf’s The Tie that Binds is a beautiful story of real life, real people, and real meaning imparted by genuine relationships. Sanders Roscoe drives a Denver newspaper reporter away from his door in fury, but he welcomes the reader into his home where he tells an enthralling story of life on the American Plains—in particular, he tells of a woman called Edith who lies in hospital bed, charged unexpectedly with murder. Sandy’s father knew Edith’s family when they first arrived in the plains. His Indian grandmother helped deliver Edith when she was born, and there’s a wonderful sense of history to the depiction of Indian lands brought under the plough and tamed. Edith’s father despises the half-caste neighbor boy, but years of working the same tracts of land tie families and lives together, even while a sense of duty threatens those precious ties. Daughter of a cruelly unthinking man, sister of an oddly unthinking brother, and childless neighbor who loves children, Edith is dry and sandy as the soil, unyielding as the plough, and solidly determined as the trees that break the ever-blowing wind. Heroes are wounded people rising above their losses, forgiving each other, trusting, and building ties as land and nature bind them. As Sanders tells Edith's tale it soon becomes clear both he and she, for all their imperfections, are heroes of a kind. Wonderfully evocative, unflinchingly honest, with self-deprecating humor and truly redeeming affection, The Tie that Binds binds the reader to these characters and the land, leaving a feeling that we’ve really been there, known these people, and really care what might happen in the end. Disclosure: A generous friend loaned me this book.

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