"And so, sunset found her, this silver-haired lady, tough as leather on the outside, soft as the rich river bottom on the inside." —Winter of Beauty, p. 6
And so we meet Sunshine Angel Lewis (Shiney) in the novel Winter of Beauty by Amy Hale Auker, a novel as rich as the river bottom itself. Shiney Lewis is the center around which all else revolves on the rugged ranching lands of Bride Mountain, known simply as the Bride.
The prose of this novel reads as poetry of the land and of the complex human dynamics that underlie apparently simple everyday life. The daily beauty and struggles of Shiney, the ranch owner; Monte, the foreman; Rafe,the old hand; Jody, the new hand; and Blake and Brenna, who bring child after child into a world they can't afford—all these, with all of their authenticity, resonate with our own blessings and challenges. These resonances deepen our connection with life on the tinaja, where "...there are those times when the basin, and sometimes two or three basins of water in steps are full and edged with the lace of small animal tracks and the deeper impressions of big ones, like coats of arms pressed into wax wafers, mud atop the rock." (pg. 7)
The seasons of the Bride reflect human seasons throughout the novel in a manner that enfolds the reader in constant reminders that all of our experiences are narratives within a greater story. "Autumn is when the Bride dances. No longer self-conscious and why, no longer blushing, no longer heavy with heat and seed, she wears the fiery jewels she's earned through the year. Her nests and pastures are empty, and cool nights whisper gold into her green." (pg. 122) The seasons of the Bride express seasons of life, seasons of life-changing decisions, loyalty, heartbreak, and the discovery that love often tiptoes into our lives in the most unexpected ways.
In Winter of Beauty, Auker brings this mixed-up, colorful family and the Bride to elemental, exquisite life. A novel to be savored.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Amy Hale Auker writes and thrives on a ranch in Arizona where she is having a love affair with rock, mountains, piņon and juniper forests, the weather, and her songwriter husband who is also foreman of the ranch. She guides her readers to a place where the bats fly, lizards do pushups on the rocks, bears leave barefoot prints in the dirt. Auker believes that what you put out there is what you get back, and that if you do the good, hard work you will be rewarded. She is also the author of Rightful Place. Visit her website.
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