Well, I did something this week that I promised myself I never would do. I read two Judith Duncan books in a row, and I really can’t say that I’m sorry. I was contacted last week by a lady who’s a Judith Duncan reader like me, and in her e-mail, she mentioned that one of her favorite Judith Duncan books is Beginnings. I thought, gee, I haven’t read that book yet, so I dug it out of my to-be-read pile and had a go at it.
Beginnings is about Holly Simpson, widowed mother of three. She got married too young, to a smooth-talkin’ cowboy who was an unreliable drifter, a spend-thrift, and a womanizer to boot. She would have left him years ago but, lacking funds, and being responsible for three young children made her want to face the known rather than the unknown. She was like many women these days, mentally abused, but didn’t even realize it.
Holly inherits a small house from her grandmother, her husband is killed by a bull, and she’s thrown off the ranch where she works because her “wonderful” husband had been sleeping around with the boss’s wife. Desperate and destitute, she takes whatever money she has and runs for home, back to Jennings, Alberta. At least here, she has a roof over her head and with any luck, she’ll find work soon and be able to raise her kids right. She’s a woman who knows “how to pinch a nickel until the beaver poops.” (Sorry, that’s my token Canuck-ness showing through.)
Into the picture walks Grady O’Neill, a man you could say is on a mission, and that mission is becoming the man in Holly’s life. The only thing is, Holly can’t even begin to think of another man in her life and she certainly wouldn’t trust him, even if she let him get really close.
I can’t say that this is a great read. I got ticked off with Grady because he kept pushing her husband back at Holly all the time. And, although he made her face reality, it wasn’t necessarily with the compassion I felt he should have given her when she told him the story of her marriage. Grady kept questioning her about why she stayed so many years with her husband, and that just really didn’t sit well with me. I also didn’t like how Holly struggled so hard. I could feel for Grady, though, when Holly wouldn’t tell him about her money problems, and wouldn’t put her total trust in him, but then, that’s part of the Battered Woman Syndrome, too. It was good that Grady made Holly face reality, and her reasons for staying too long in a marriage that was really over before it even started.
Some of her Judith Duncan’s books are so gut-wrenching, I feel drained afterwards. I know the reader who recommended Beginnings will disagree with this, but I was somewhat disappointed in it. It’s worth re-reading later to see if I change my mind, but I expect so much from Judith Duncan! Beginnings is a good story, but not of the caliber of some of her later books.