Picks and Pans Review: St. Agnes'stand
Beach Book of the Week
OKAY, SO LEATHERY COWBOY NAT Swanson (fleeing a posse across the New Mexican desert) and flinty old nun Sister Agnes (shepherding a passel of orphans) are right from central casting. And the tale of how they hook up and deal with an Apache attack is as straight as a Hollywood arrow. But public relations executive Eidson brings more to this lean, noteworthy first novel than a blend of Father Goose and Lonesome Dove (although Larry McMurtry is already at work on a screenplay).
Faith is the most powerful protagonist of this story. Sister Agnes believes Nat has been sent by God to save the children, and Nat bridles at playing angel, but by the end everyone has seen the light. Eidson's spare style and distaste for sentiment provide an added spiritual boost. (Putnam, $19.95)
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