Summary and book reviews of Eventide by Kent Haruf

Eventide

By Kent Haruf

Eventide
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  • Hardcover: May 2004,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: May 2005,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

One of the most beloved novels in recent years, Plainsong was a best-seller from coast to coast—and now Kent Haruf returns to the High Plains community of Holt, Colorado, with a story of even more masterful authority.

When the McPheron brothers see Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they’d taken in, move from their ranch to begin college, an emptiness opens before them—and for many other townspeople it also promises to be a long, hard winter. A young boy living alone with his grandfather helps out a neighbor whose husband, off in Alaska, suddenly isn’t coming home, leaving her to raise their two daughters. At school the children of a disabled couple suffer indignities that their parents know all too well in their own lives, with only a social worker to look after them and a violent relative to endanger them further. But in a small town a great many people encounter one another frequently, often surprisingly, and destinies soon become entwined—for good and for ill—as they confront events that sorely test the limits of their resilience and means, with no refuge available except what their own character and that of others afford them.

Spring eventually does reach across the land, and how the people of Eventide get there makes for an engrossing, profoundly moving novel rich in the wisdom, humor, and humanity for which Kent Haruf is justly acclaimed.

They came up from the horse barn in the slanted light of early morning. The McPheron brothers, Harold and Raymond. Old men approaching an old house at the end of summer. They came on across the gravel drive past the pickup and the car parked at the hogwire fencing and came one after the other through the wire gate. At the porch they scraped their boots on the saw blade sunken in the dirt, the ground packed and shiny around it from long use and mixed with barnlot manure, and walked up the plank steps onto the screened porch and entered the kitchen where the nineteen-year-old girl Victoria Roubideaux sat at the pinewood table feeding oatmeal to her little daughter.

In the kitchen they removed their hats and hung them on pegs set into a board next to the door and began at once to wash up at the sink. Their faces were red and weather-blasted below their white foreheads, the coarse hair on their round heads grown iron-gray and as stiff as the roached mane of a horse. When they finished ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enliven your group’s discussion of Eventide, Kent Haruf’s moving follow-up to his acclaimed novel Plainsong.


About This Book

Set in the cattle country of the high plains, in and just outside of Holt, Colorado, Eventide tells the story of the McPheron brothers, Harold and Raymond, two elderly bachelor-ranchers, and the rich cast of characters who surround them.

In many ways, Eventide is about the pain of separation. As the novel opens, Victoria Roubideaux is preparing to move away from the McPherons’ ranch to attend college in Fort Collins. Harold and Raymond had taken her in back when she was three months ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Haruf returns to the small town of Holt, Colorado to continue the story he started in Plainsong (1999). However, you don't have to have read Plainsong to enjoy this tale This tale could so easily have turned to slush in less skilled hands, but as one reviewer puts it Haruf is 'a master of restraint and a writer of remarkable tenderness and dignity [who] tells his characters' tough stories without omniscient commentary, trusting in the power of straight-ahead prose and realistic predicaments. Highly recommended.  

Media Reviews
Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times

… if a sense of déjà vu dogs the reader of this book, the novel also showcases the qualities that made Plainsong such a seductive performance. It's not just that readers of Plainsong will want to find out what has happened to Raymond and Harold McPheron and their neighbors. It's that Mr. Haruf makes us care about these plain-spoken, small town folks without ever resorting to sentimentality or clichés. Instead, he uses their own language — simple, laconic and uninflected with irony or contemporary slang — to capture the mood and mores of the town.

Chicago Sun-Times - Mark Athitakis

In creating a place whose people are tethered to each other by history and emotion as much as place, Haruf's work is now competing with Faulkner's Mississippi, Sherwood Anderon's Midwest, and Wallace Stegner's northern California.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Mickey Pearlman

Like the lives he chronicles, Haruf's prose moves relentlessly forward, catching in his images the fierceness and sweetness of experience.

Newsday - Dan Cryer

This novelist writes with such unabashed wonder before life's mysteries, such compassion for frail humanity that he seems to have issued from another time, a better place.

Colorado Springs Independent - Kathryn Eastburn

Luminous . . . Haruf's uncanny ability to stay out of his characters' way is evident again in Eventide. What comes out of their mouths, whether it is kind, mean, ignorant, confused, intelligent or clouded by loneliness, is true and hard, spare as life on the plains . . . Eventide depicts a time, a place and its people so sincerely and so compellingly, with moments of such rare beauty, that the reader cannot walk away.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - Karen Sandstrom

Masterful... A full and satisfying novel complete unto itself [that] might be even more emotionally powerful than its predecessor.

Christian Science Monitor - Ron Charles

This hardscrabble story kicks up a dust cloud of melancholy that will sting even the most hardened readers' eyes. At the end of some chapters I was left wondering, Who in America can still write like this? Who else has such confidence and such humility?

O Magazine - Mark Doty

A stunning novel of brothers, land, grief, and redemption...The dry, cold air of Colorado's high plains seems to intensify the light Kent Haruf shines on every character in his masterful novel Eventide. He brings such grace and care to his examination of the ways we fail and, sometimes, help one another, that the end result is a book of hope, hope as plain and hard-won as Haruf's keenly styled prose.

Publishers Weekly

Haruf's follow-up to the critically acclaimed and bestselling Plainsong is as lovely and accomplished as its predecessor.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

Readers, grateful for a return visit to archetypal Holt and entranced by the bracing clarity of the wind-chilled open range and the solace of coffee-warm kitchens, will share Haruf's respect for life's mysteries and his faith in goodness.

Library Journal - Robin Nesbitt

Through Haruf's crisp, clean prose, we feel the pain of Holt's citizens as they struggle to survive life with hope and dignity. No easy answers here, just honest storytelling that is compelling and rings true. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

Haruf sings the second verse of his moving hymn to life on America's great plains..... Melancholy truths set to gorgeous melody.

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