The Bones of Paradise: Book summary and reviews of The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee

The Bones of Paradise

by Jonis Agee

The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2016
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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.'" - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Another beautifully rendered and thought-provoking novel from Agee, who calls this land home." - Booklist

"The story's several parts - gritty Western, family saga, mystery - work together for a memorable tale of heartbreak and redemption." - Publishers Weekly

"With strong historical content as well as a murder mystery, family dysfunction, and a hint of romance, there is plenty here to keep readers satisfied." - Library Journal

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Jonis Agee was born in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Nebraska and Missouri, places where many of her stories and novels are set. She was educated at the University of Iowa (BA) and the State University of New York at Binghamton (MA, PhD). She is Adele Hall Professor of English at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She is the author of thirteen books, including the novels Sweet Eyes, Strange Angels, and her most recent, The River Wife, and the short fiction collections, A .38 Special and a Broken Heart, Taking the Wall, and Acts of Love on Indigo Road. Agee's awards include the Gold Award from ForeWord magazine for Acts of Love on Indigo Road, 2004; the NEA grant in fiction; a Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction; the Nebraska Book Award for Weight of Dreams, 2000. Three of her books Strange Angels, Bend This Heart, and Sweet Eyes were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times.

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