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The past catches up with Margaret Yearwood after she abandons her orderly life in California for rural New Mexico, falls in love with her neighbor, and begins a tentative communication with her newly deaf son
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Jo-Ann Mapson, a third generation Californian, grew up in Fullerton as a middle child with four siblings. She dropped out of college to marry, but later finished a creative writing degree at California State University, Long Beach. Following her son's birth in 1978, Mapson worked an assortment of odd jobs teaching horseback riding, cleaning houses, typing resumes, and working retail. After earning a graduate degree from Vermont College's low residency program, she taught at Orange Coast College for six years before turning to full-time writing in 1996. Mapson is the author of the acclaimed novels Shadow Ranch, Blue Rodeo, Hank Chloe, and Loving Chloe."The land is as much a character as the people," Mapson has said. Whether writing about the stark beauty of a California canyon or the poverty of an Arizona reservation, Mapson's landscapes are imbued with life. Setting her fiction in the Southwest, Mapson writes about a region that she knows well; after growing up in California and living for a time in Arizona and New Mexico, Mapson lives today in Cosa Mesa, California. She attributes her focus on setting to the influence of Wallace Stegner.Like many of her characters, Mapson has ridden horses since she was a child. She owns a 35-year-old Appaloosa and has said that she learned about writing from learning to jump her horse, Tonto. "I realized," she said, "that the same thing that had been wrong with my riding was the same thing that had been wrong with my writing. In riding there is a term called `the moment of suspension,' when you're over the fence, just hanging in the air. I had to give myself up to it, let go, trust the motion. Once I got that right, everything fell into place."From Publishers Weekly:
A bittersweet story of middle-aged romance and family relationships, Mapson's second novel (after the praised Hank & Chloe ) is an engrossing, affecting story that should have solid popular appeal. Set in the Tony Hillerman and Barbara Kingsolver country of Southwestern small towns and Indian reservations, it chronicles the unlikely love affair of recent divorcee Margaret Yearwood, who has fled her chic California life and hopes to begin painting again, and former alcoholic Owen Garrett, now a sheepherder and hardware store clerk. Both Maggie and Owen are hiding troubled pasts and think themselves failures. Ditched by her husband for a younger woman and heartsick over the fact that meningitis has left her teenaged son Peter totally deaf, Maggie has come to the little town of Blue Dog, New Mexico, to be near Peter's boarding school, but he refuses to see her. Owen once accidentally killed a man and has been on the run ever since; he is the Marlboro man with a tender and sensitive streak. These two lonely, displaced people heal each other with passionate love (Mapson doesn't stint on the sex scenes), but circumstances preclude immediate happiness. Meanwhile, both Maggie and her son move toward maturity, learn to cope with loss and acquire the wisdom to understand "the necessity of grief, and its partner, joy." Maggie's reckless, charismatic sister Nori and Owen's best friend, Navajo Joe Yazzi, are supporting players, each emotionally scarred and searching for soul's peace. Mapson's affection for the Southwestern landscape and for the Native American culture is palpable. She has a particularly acute ear for the attitudes and lingo of teenagers, but her writing sometimes veers toward the saccharine. On the whole, however, she has proved herself wise in the ways of the human heart. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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