From Publishers Weekly
As a student at the Ashlawn Preparatory School in 1959 England, eight-year-old, cowboy-crazy Tommy Bedford, the hero of Evans's latest outdoor soap opera, is teased for being a bed wetter and gets the shock of his young life when he learns that his sister, glamorous "Next Big Thing" actress Diane Reed, is really his mother. Soon afterwards, she and Tommy move to L.A., where Diane falls for TV cowboy Ray Montane, and their tortured relationship leads to a horrifying act of violence that has lifelong repercussions for Tommy. In a parallel, present-day plot, 50-ish Tom, now a writer and documentary filmmaker who specializes in the American West, lives in Montana, is divorced and estranged from his adult son, Danny, who has been accused of committing an atrocity while serving in Iraq, for which he will be tried in a military court. Alternating past and present, Evans expertly juggles his twin narratives until they come shatteringly together as father and son yield to the combined weight of the secrets they hide. Combining elements of the prep school drama, the Hollywood novel, the western, and the war story, Evans (The Horse Whisperer) skillfully mixes genres to create a real crowd-pleaser.
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“It’s complicated” doesn’t come close to describing Tom Bedford’s family history. As a child in 1950s England, Tom worships two things: American TV westerns and his sophisticated sister, Diane, a promising young actress. His parents, though, are another matter. Cold, distant, and old, they selfishly banish Tom to Dickensian boarding schools. When Diane lands a screen test that will catapult her from the London stage to a Hollywood movie set, she first springs Tom from school and then informs him that those people are actually his grandparents. She, not the alcoholic shrew who raised him, is his real mother. And the news keeps getting better: his new dad will be none other than rugged TV cowboy Ray Montane. But life in Tinseltown turns dark when Ray begins mercilessly beating Diane. Reflecting on his life once he becomes a divorced father with a failed relationship with his only son, a marine serving in Iraq who is accused of heinous war crimes, Tom must reconcile his past. Ever the master of intense and complex relationships, Evans has crafted a time-traveling plot that admirably juggles issues of identity and fidelity to one’s self and one’s principles. --Carol Haggas