Monday, 5 March 2012

Larry Watson - Montana 1948

Montana 1948
.Library Journal Review

A young Sioux woman tossing with fever on a cot; a father begging his wife for help; a mother standing uncertainly in her kitchen with a 12-gauge shotgun: from these fragments of memory, evoked by the narrator as the novel opens, Watson builds a simple but powerful tale. It is Montana in 1948, and young David Hayden's father, Wesley, is sheriff of their small town--a position he inherited from his domineering father. Wesley is overshadowed by his older brother, Frank, a war hero who is now the town doctor. When Marie, the Sioux woman who works for the Haydens, fall ill, she adamantly resists being examined by Frank. Some probing reveals that Frank has been molesting the Indian women in his care. Wesley's dilemma--should he turn in his own brother?--is intensified when Marie is found dead and David confesses that he saw his uncle near the house before she died. The moral issues, and the consequences of following one's conscience, are made painfully evident here. Watson is to be congratulated for the honesty of his writing and the purity of his prose. Highly recommended.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"

Download Link

The following may be a spoiler so beware!

Montana 1948 is a 1993 novel by Larry Watson. The novel focuses on the life of young Montanan David Hayden, his family and the fictional town of Bentrock, Montana, and focuses on the struggles of a family torn between loyalty and justice. It was awarded the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.

When David's family's Native American housekeeper Marie Little Soldier falls ill, Frank Hayden, the local doctor and David's uncle, is called. When Marie refuses medical treatment, David's parents, Wes, the local sheriff, and Gail discover that Frank has been preying on the local Native American women, molesting them.

When Marie is found dead, Frank convinces the family it is pneumonia which has killed her. Not long after Marie's death, David decides to tell his father what he had seen. He had witnessed Frank leaving the house around the same time Marie had died. Initially, Wes begins investigating the molestation accusations against Frank. Wes confronts Frank at a dinner at their father's house. Wes and Frank reach a compromise.

Wes goes to work investigating this and eventually arrests his own brother and holds him captive in the basement to avoid the embarrassment Frank would experience by going to the local jail. Eventually this all gets too much for Gail and she wishes for Frank to be released out of her home. When Wes talks to his brother, Frank doesn't deny killing Marie and molesting numerous other Indian women. Wes's moral values override his family loyalty and he is obliged to take his brother to be locked up in the local jail the next day. Later that night the family wake to the sound of jars smashing in the basement. In the morning Wes finds that Frank has committed suicide by slitting his wrists with the broken glass.

The family's problems are essentially solved, letting the rest of the town believe Frank died by accident. Soon after, the family moves out of Bentrock, Montana, as the secrets they kept become too much to bear.

Download Link

No comments:

Post a Comment