From the flap of the Harper Row hardcover edition: To call Robin McCorquodale's astonishing first novel a love story does not do it justice: Dansville traces the course of an obsession with such unsparing insight and poignance that I draws a classic, unforgettable portrait of a remarkable woman’s passion for a younger man.Shortly after World War II, Elaine Menutis, recentlFrom the flap of the Harper Row hardcover edition: To call Robin McCorquodale's astonishing first novel a love story does not do it justice: Dansville traces the course of an obsession with such unsparing insight and poignance that I draws a classic, unforgettable portrait of a remarkable woman’s passion for a younger man.Shortly after World War II, Elaine Menutis, recently widowed and struggling to make a living selling real estate in Texas cattle country, meets Hugh Littleton, the arrogant 19-year old son of the local land baron. Devastated by her young husband’s death in combat, Elaine is determined to make herself unavailable to Dansville’s interested bachelors. But Hugh Littleton is a man who is not accustomed to being denied anything-least of all a beautiful and unattached small-town widow. He pursues he so insistently in love and in despair that Elaine finally yields, recognizing that with her surrender she will lose her son, her reputation in the town and eventually, Hugh himself.Dansville is, as its author describes it, “a big romance about people who know how that is done, and who have the advantage of a reasonably savage setting in which to play it out.”...
|Number of Pages||:||371 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Originally published in 1986. I read the Kindle edition issued in 2012, which had some OCR errors and editing issues but was readable. I discovered this book browsing on Amazon and decided to purchase it since it was selling at a bargain price and I was looking for a love story with beautiful prose. The author passed away several years ago and was never a prolific author (aside from this and one other novel, she mostly published poetry and in literary journals).Main Characters: --Elaine Menutis, her first husband Foley; --Hugh Littleton, his parents Clarence and Clara; --Matt, Clarence’s ranch foreman (who has been like a surrogate father for Hugh); and--Luther, their best ranch hand, and Lettie, the young girl Luther rescues and marries.You know those movies where the cinematography and/or soundtrack enhance what's happening with the characters onscreen and really elevate the entire experience despite some issues with the characters or plot? This is that sort of book. The sights, sounds, questionable morality and raw, gritty way of life in East Texas cattle country really come alive. Whether this is the real Texas as it once was just before and after WW2 or a mythic country invented in books and movies could be debated but doesn’t detract from the power of the story. I love books that have a rhythm and flow, and this certainly has it. The author was also a poet and it really shows in how her descriptions of characters and landscape are so tightly woven in with everything going on and with the precise acuity of a highly specialized instrument. I think one of the reasons this book has faded into obscurity, though, is that it reflects a way of life and values that are no longer socially acceptable. It depicts a time in the 30s and 40s when women often married young, didn't have careers, and gender relations and power struggles were viewed very differently than they are today. Men were able to dominate women with impunity. Women found ways to fight dirty and often paid a high price for their independence, sexuality and eventual downfall. It's also a tale of different kinds of courtship across class divides and serves as a coming-of-age for Hugh as the upstart young lover over roughly four stormy years.The prologue describes the courtship of 16-year-old Elaine by her first husband Foley who, though from a poor family, was a star athlete and went to college on a football scholarship. He was also smart and hardworking and didn't rest on the laurels of his athletic accomplishments alone. He meets Elaine when he’s invited by her brother to their home for the weekend. Foley’s wooing of Elaine, a former tomboy who had just recently blossomed, was a difficult road because she was young and hardly understood her own burgeoning womanhood let alone Foley's determination, but once he won her they settled happily into conventional married life. Elaine was married at 16, became a mother at 17, and a widow just eight short years after her wedding. Foley was looked up to by all who knew him and would be a hard act for any man to follow.The story proper begins when 19-year-old Hugh meets Elaine three years after her husband has died a hero’s death in WWII. Hugh desires her and decides he will go to great lengths to have her. He's the son of a rich man and isn't used to being turned down. He's different from Foley, but like Foley in his stubborn and persistent pursuit of her. Elaine knows he is wrong for her. She should not engage in the affair, but goes ahead against her better judgment knowing all too well that it can't end well. Adding further layers to the love story, other courtships are also described in the book, such as that of Luther the ranch hand who rescues and marries a young girl (around 14 or 15) who was badly beaten and pregnant by her uncle when he met her and took her in (his story nearly upstages Hugh's and as a love story is probably the more convincing one). This book reminded me of some of those old Martin Ritt movies influenced by southern writers like William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams where tension (sexual and otherwise) is thick in the air (and it doesn’t hurt picturing Paul Newman steaming up the page). Those studying the craft of writing could learn a thing or two from how this author creates that kind of slow building but highly volatile tension.