Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson

This novel is based on the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who spent most of her life with the Comanche after she was captured off her family's Texas settlement by them in 1836 at the age of 9. Fortunately, she was considered young enough to be adopted into the People and escapes the rape, murder and torture that befall her older relatives. (Word of warning: St. Clair Robson doesn't gloss that part of the story over.)

Cynthia eventually comes to the lodge of Pahayuca, a band leader of the Comanche. She eventually accepts her new identity as Naduah, Keeps Warm With Us, and comes to love her new life. She also comes to love one of the People's young leaders. Their relationship - based on friendship, desire and love - stands up with John of Gaunt and Katherine, and Jamie and Claire Fraser, as one of my favorites in literature. But anyone with a passing knowledge of late 19th Century Texan history will know their life will not have a happily-ever-after ending. The Comanche's way of existence is slowly being eradicated by the Parkers and people like them. This book is definitely a tear-jerker, but oh-so-worth the read.

The only hesitation I have in recommending this book is that others may do what I did. After reading it, I eagerly sought out St. Clair Robson's other books - and eventually came to the conclusion that she was a one-hit wonder. This was her debut novel and though I have read several of her succeeding titles, I have not found one nearly as engaging as this one. There's a new one out about the Revolutionary War that looks intriguing, but I keep picking it up and putting it back down at the bookstore, thinking I've been burned once too often by her. Maybe someday I'll work up the courage to try again.

But please don't let that discourage you from reading this book that I love.

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