July 2008 Indie Next List
“In Paulette Jiles' novel, set in Texas during the Great Depression, a family faces the chaos of dust storms and the debilitating experience of poverty, as Jiles tells a compelling story of characters balancing survival and taking major risks. This is a very good work of historical fiction.”
— Dianne Patrick, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI
Oil is king of East Texas during the darkest years of the Great Depression. The Stoddard girls responsible Mayme, whip-smart tomboy Jeanine, and bookish Bea know no life but an itinerant one, trailing their father from town to town as he searches for work on the pipelines and derricks. But in a year of devastating drought and dust storms, the family's fortunes sink further than they ever anticipated when a questionable "accident" leaves the girls and their mother, Elizabeth, alone to confront the cruelest hardships of these hardest of times.
Returning to their previously abandoned family farm, the resilient Stoddard women must now place their last hopes for salvation in a wildcat oil well that eats up what little they have left . . . and on the back of late patriarch Jack's one true legacy, a dangerous racehorse named Smoky Joe.
“Jiles’s follow-up to her highly praised debut, Enemy Women, [is] a deeply satisfying novel with wide appeal.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“Jiles’s eloquent, engaging novel celebrates four strong women toughing out the Great Depression . . . [a] gritty saga.”
“[A] stirring story . . . of self and home in language as spare and stark as the Texas landscape.”