Prophet Annie is a tall tale told by one of the most engaging heroines I’ve met in a long time. Annie Pinkerton Boone is a young woman who lives in Iowa with her cranky, crabby and downright hateful Mama. Annie had run off with a gandy dancer a while back, but he got killed and she’s been back with Mama trying to ignore her crabby ways and run their boarding house. When Mama up and dies, Annie finds out that Mama had made a dying wish for Annie to travel to Arizona and marry a former friend of the family, Jonas Newcastle. Mama had thought the world of Jonas (he was rich), and since dutiful daughters honor their Mama’s dying wishes, Annie gets on the train and goes off to Arizona to Jonas’s home – Newcastle’s Castle.
Jonas turns out to be, as Annie puts it, “old, terrible thin and vulture-ugly” but the wedding is on and they marry immediately. Jonas gets a little too carried away on his wedding night, and sometime in the midst of his third go round he up and dies.
Well, Jonas turns out to be not so rich as Annie was led to believe, and now she is a widow and stuck with the care of Jonas’s two old sisters Miss Jonquil and Miss Jessie. Oh yes, and Jonas has not left. It seems that his spirit has taken up residence in Annie’s body and he periodically comes out to speak of the wonders of times in the future – along with some bragging of his Indian fighting exploits.
The manager of a traveling side-show gets wind of Annie’s ability and offers her a contract. Since Annie desperately needs money, she agrees and takes off with the show, taking Sam Two Trees, as a chaperone. Sam is a ward of Jonas’s – he’s half-Navajo and a fabulous cook.
Most of Prophet Annie is about Annie’s exploits as a seer and her relationship (if you can call it that) with Jonas, who even though he is dead is still (as Annie puts it), “a randy old goat.”
There are some side-splittingly funny descriptions of how Jonas, even if he is dead, is still as lusty as ever and wheedles his way to having ghostly sex with Annie two nights a week. Luckily for Annie, she is not aware while Jonas is doing his business, but she still doesn’t like it – not a bit.
At one show, Annie sees a handsome man with green eyes and falls in love at first sight. Now how do you manage to meet and court when your body is inhabited by a jealous husband? Of course Annie manages and events come to an exciting and very funny conclusion that had me laughing at almost every line.
The best thing about Prophet Annie is Annie herself. The first-person narrative lends itself to tall-tale telling perfectly and Annie tells her story with wit and vigor and it’s just so funny that I had to stop and wipe tears of laughter away as I read it. The secondary characters are wonderfully engaging and even the villains (slimy as they were) had me giggling at them.
If you are down in the dumps and need a good laugh, I can recommend Prophet Annie. I can’t think of anyone who would not laugh at this book, with the possible exception of Annie’s Mama – the grumpy old thing.