The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee
A Novel

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The Bones of Paradise is everything a Western novel should be: a setting that challenges men and women to survive, a love of the land that as strong as that for one’s family, and a story as strong and harsh as the land itself.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee—an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.

Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.

At the center of The Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea, returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister, Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.

A kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this magnificent, blood-soaked land—its sweeping prairies, seas of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and lawlessness—and the durable men and women who dared to tame it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality, tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the American West.

 

About Jonis Agee

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onis Agee is the author of four novels, Sweet Eyes, Strange Angels, South of Resurrection, and The Weight of Dreams, four collections of short fiction, Pretend We've Never Met, Bend This Heart, A .38 SPECIAL AND A BROKEN HEART, and TAKING THE WALL, and a book of poetry, Houses. Three of her books--Strange Angels, Bend This Heart, and Sweet Eyes--were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. TAKING THE WALL won the Foreword Magazine Editor's Choice Award and The Weight of Dreams won the Nebraska Book Award. Jonis Agee is a Nebraska native who has lived and taught throughout the Midwest. She is now Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
 
Published August 2, 2016 by William Morrow. 432 pages
Genres: History, Westerns, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Bones of Paradise
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 22 2016

This sexy, violent, intricate Western is ultimately a love letter to the Sand Hills, “where all was alive, all living, in one form or another.”

Read Full Review of The Bones of Paradise: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by D. R. Meredith on Aug 31 2016

The Bones of Paradise is everything a Western novel should be: a setting that challenges men and women to survive, a love of the land that as strong as that for one’s family, and a story as strong and harsh as the land itself.

Read Full Review of The Bones of Paradise: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Christine Brunkhorst on Aug 11 2016

Three-fourths in, I felt so annoyed by the white settlers’ squabbles I didn’t care which lowlife killed J.B...But just when you think you can’t read another word about this sorry lot and their brutality and bad parenting, Rose resurfaces with a vengeance. You’ll have to read all the way to the end to see what I mean.

Read Full Review of The Bones of Paradise: A Novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune

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