In the tradition of such Western classics as My Ántonia and There Will Be Blood, Anna Keesey’s Little Century is a resonant and moving debut novel by a writer of confident gifts.
Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless town of Century, Oregon, she’s met by her distant cousin—a cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. There, she begins a new life as a homesteader, in the hope that her land will one day join Pick’s impressive spread.
But Century is in the midst of an escalating and violent war over water and rangeland. As incidents between the sheep and cattle ranchers turn to bloodshed, Esther’s sympathies are divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, sworn enemy of the cattlemen. Torn between her growing passion for Ben and her love of the austere land, she begins to realize that she can’t be loyal to both.
This is a debut novel? Seriously? The writing is lyrical. The story is lovely. Anna Keesey should be very proud of her first book.
A city girl homesteading on the high desert of Oregon at the turn of the century. That premise alone is rich with possibilities. Add in the range wars between cattle ranchers and sheepherders and you’ve got a very exciting tale indeed. Throw in well-drawn characters and a bit of realistic romance? Now you have an absolute winner.
I’m a sucker for good historical fiction and Little Century certainly lived up to my high expectations. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of westerns. Neither would I call myself a fan of romance. In both of those cases this book exceeded my expectations. Trust me, that’s not easy to do.
I found Little Century to be crisp and impressive. Highly recommended.