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Cross Plains Public Library (TX)

"The Homesman" by Glen Swarthout

This was a captivating story read by our book club about early pioneers in 1850s American West.  Many brave women became broken in spirit enduring the hardships encountered on the farms and ranches of that era. A “homesman” is an escort who picks up these women and transports them to a sanitarium. In this story, none of the men in the county would volunteer as homesman, so Mary Bee Cuddy steps forward. Cuddy, a spinster who is strong, tough, and ingenious knows she cannot succeed alone, so searches for a companion to help her make the trip. Her only candidate is a low-life claim jumper named George Briggs. So, they travel east together with four women in tow. They battle many hardships along the way: Indian attacks, ice storms, the belligerent women they are transporting, and loneliness.

“In an unprecedented sweep, Glendon Swarthout’s novel won both the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award and the Western Heritage Wrangler Award. A new afterword by the author’s son Miles Swarthout tells of his parents Glendon and Kathryn’s discovery of and research into the lives of the oft-forgotten frontier women who make The Homesman as moving and believable as it is unforgettable.” – Amazon.com

“The Homesman” is now a major motion picture directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, with Hillary Swank & Meryl Streep. You can find the book at the library or as an audiobook from Overdrive e-books.  The DVD is also available at the library if you want to watch the movie!

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