BookBrowse Reviews An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg

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An Unfinished Life

by Mark Spragg

An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg X
An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2004, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2005, 272 pages

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Immediately compelling and constantly surprising. Novel

From the book jacket: Set in the high-country of Wyoming, this is a riveting tale of hard-won friendship, old wounds, fresh pain and love lost and found.

Comment: An Unfinished Life is somewhat similar in style to Kent Haruf's Plainsong - but grittier.  Jean Gilkyson hasn't been home to Wyoming for ten years, since her husband died in a car accident;  she was driving and her father-in-law, Einar, has never forgiven her.  However, now she's out of money and options. Leaving her abusive boyfriend, Roy, she and her nine-year-old daughter, Griff, escape to the only place left to them, her father-in-law's house in Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Griff meets the grandfather she didn't know she had, and Jean's father-in-law meets the granddaughter he didn't know he had. The story is told from five different viewpoints: Griff, Einar, Jean, Roy, and Einar's old war buddy and best friend, Mitch, who is pivotal in breaking down the barriers between the generations, allowing the shoots of forgiveness a chance to grow. 

The voice of the abusive boyfriend, Roy, is particularly convincing.  In the interview that you can read at BookBrowse, Spragg says that the most difficult part of the book was to convey Roy's voice accurately, particularly 'his sense of being misunderstood, his burning righteousness and his sentimentality of violence'. 

'An old rancher reluctantly takes in his daughter-in-law and granddaughter in this moving and well-crafted, if rather derivative, second novel by Spragg (The Fruit of Stone).' - PW.
'Each word counts for more than it says in this achingly beautiful story of courage and endurance.' - Booklist.

This review first ran in the August 17, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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