Reviews

  • 4 May 2009

    praise for A Sandhills Ballad :
    “Randolph . . . brings the Sandhills of western Nebraska vividly to life, as experience by one plucky young woman. Recently married Mary Needham loses a leg in the tragic auto accident that kills her husband. She had been like one of the ranch hands as a girl, and then on her in-law's ranch, but now she is lost. Convinced she has nowhere else to run, she makes a hasty and regrettable decision to marry Ward Hamilton, the conservative preacher who comes calling. She soon realizes her role is merely that of "the church's servant." She nearly leaves, but . . . she stays . . . while Ward becomes more and more obsessed with his church, seeing his life as a battle between good and evil, Randolph's debut novel becomes a page-turner as the reader pulls for Mary to regain her self-esteem and ultimately return to the land she loves.   -- Deborah Donovan, BOOKLIST”

    BOOKLIST
  • 29 Apr 2009

    praise for A Sandhills Ballad :
    “It strikes me that A SANDHILLS BALLAD is a nearly perfect book. The harsh Nebraska landscape is a complete character in its own right. Unforgiving. Somewhat distant. Aloof. Home. The human characters are more yielding, but only just. And the sum of what author Ladette Randolph creates here is unforgettable. We meet Mary Rasmussen as she's awakening from a six week coma after an accident in which she bride lost her husband. "In that deep sleep she dreamt about the wind. She heard it whistle under the windowsills and through the cracks of an empty house, heart it rattle the loose No Hunting sign on a weathered post, and slam open and shut again the sagging door of an old barn." A husband is not all Mary lost in the accident and, over the fullness of A SANDHILLS BALLAD, her emotional awakening is like a rebirth. The most startling thing about A SANDHILLS BALLAD is the fact that Randolph does not have a wider following. A winner of the Nebraska Book Award (for the collection THIS IS NOT THE TROPICS), she is also the recipient of a Norcroft fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and a Virginia Faulkner Award. With the publication of this exquisite novel, perhaps her name will become better known.-- Monica Stark, JANUARY MAGAZINE”

    January Magazine
  • 10 Apr 2009

    praise for A Sandhills Ballad :
    “After youthful rancher Mary Needham loses her husband and her left leg in a terrible car crash, she's convinced that God has abandoned her and that no one will love her again. Her fear of being alone pushes her to marry charismatic but conservative preacher Ward Hamilton, but by the time she realizes her horrible mistake she's pregnant and unable to leave him. But when Ward spearheads a lawsuit against the family of Mary's dead husband, she risks everything she has built to get away from him. Stark and engrossing, this debut novel from short story writer, editor and Ploughshares director Randolph (This Is Not the Tropics) fixes an empathetic but relentless gaze on a woman determined to expunge the regrets from her life. The small-town American plains setting is strangely void of temporal context, trapped much like its heroine, whose trepidation and hesitancy Randolph handles with unexpected skill, keeping Mary likable when she could easily have grown frustrating. An immersing achievement, this novel should please any fan of good fiction, not just the horses-and-heartthrobs set.”

    Publisher's Weekly
  • 16 Mar 2009

    praise for A Sandhills Ballad :
    “I began reading A Sandhills Ballad in the afternoon and found myself, at three in the morning, finishing the last page. Mary's story is at once sad and brave, tender and compelling. Ladette Randolph knows well the rhythms and variations of life in Nebraska's Sandhills, where men and women face loss without complaint and celebrate their days with a love of family and land and community that runs like a quiet stream beneath the seamless prose of this novel.”

    —Mary Clearman Blew, Jackalope Dreams
  • 16 Mar 2009

    praise for A Sandhills Ballad :
    A Sandhills Ballad is a poignantly written, lovely novel of the heartland that honors the best traditions of storytelling.”

    —Jim Harrison, The English Major, Legends of the Fall