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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The Tie That Binds Paperback – March 21, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An impressive, expertly crafted work of sensitivity and detail. . . . Powerful."  --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] fine first novel that dramatically and accurately explores the lives of people who work the land in the stark American Middle West."  --The New York Times Book Review

"Kent Haruf writes so wonderfully. . . . His characters live, and the voice of his narrator reverberates after the last page: humorous, ironic, loving."  --The Christian Science Monitor

"Haruf's gifts as a writer go beyond choreography. He has caught his prairie people with the skill of Wright Morris, the prairie itself with the sweeping eye of Willa Cather. . . . [I]t's nearly impossible to believe this is his first novel."  --Rocky Mountain News

From the Inside Flap

Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.
In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family--and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Contemporaries ed edition (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375724389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375724381
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The first book I read from Kent Haruf was Plainsong, which I thought was one of the best books of the year. The Tie That Binds, however, may be even better. It's bleak simplicity, as stark as the Colorado plains in which it takes place, assaults the reader slowly and steadily, unrelenting, but sublime and oh so human. The story of Sanders Roscoe and his neighbors Edith and Lyman Goodnough is heartbreaking and inevitable. Told by Roscoe in a voice as authentic as any I've ever heard, the tale unwinds slowly and passionately. I can imagine sitting in Roscoe's house listening to him tell his side of the story with the rapt attention he demands and deserves. Like Plainsong, the book is full of characters who, with the exception of Edith's father, straddle the line between heroism and villanry. No one is without blame or imperfections, regardless of their intentions. Haruf obviously understands life in Holt, Colorado, and does a wonderful job of conveying it to the reader. Likewise, he knows people and the characters in this book jump off the pages with honesty and realness. An excellent book and another reason to delve deeper into the Haruf portfolio of fine books.
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THE TIE THAT BINDS is structured differently than PLAINSONG. For one thing it's written in first person and the narrator, rancher Sanders Roscoe, holds the point of view throughout the novel. But the story is really about Edith Goodnough, who is being charged with the murder of her brother. Roscoe takes us all the way back to the nineteenth century when Edith's father Roy emigrated to Holt County, Colorado. He and his wife, Ada, have two children, Edith and Lyman. Roy is an ornery cuss who treats his family like possessions. Ada, who longs for her home country in Iowa, soon dies and Edith becomes the mother, a role she will play for the rest of her life.

Sanders' father once had a romantic attachment to Edith but Roy rejects him because he's part Native American. His father never quite gets over Edith and makes Sanders help out at the Goodnoughs when Roy tries to make Edith work in the fields. She becomes a second mother to Sanders.

These characters are simply amazing. Lyman Goodnough, who escapes his father during WWII and travels the U.S. for most of his life, is a true original. Little Rena Roscoe, Sanders' daughter, adds a little comic relief to the story when she forms an attachment to the increasingly senile Lyman. About the only character from PLAINSONG that's familiar is Sheriff Bud Sealy, who incites Sanders' wrath when he arrests Edith. Believe me, it doesn't matter; this author can make the most transitory character resonate with life.

Kent Haruf has more compassion in his little toenail than some of our religious leaders have in their whole congregation. When Edith's father dies, she winds up alone. Haruf's description of what this does to a person, sent shivers up my spine. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. I've read PLAINSONG, EVENSONG and now THE TIE THAT BINDS, and I can't wait for the next episode in the lives of the people who live in Holt, Colorado.
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Format: Paperback
This is the 3rd Haruf book I've read. Started with PLAINSONG which was a complete masterpiece, then moved onto WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED which was a haunting story about small town love. Now, THE TIE THAT BINDS explores the life of one central character, a woman who forsakes a deep and true lover to care for her physically maimed and emotionally abusive father. Haruf's writing is absorbing, engrossing and totally spellbinding. The reader comes to understand the motives behind the sometimes desperate actions of these people. I love the spare, bleak descriptions of life in this town of Holt. The novel builds to an inevitable, heartbreaking conclusion. I'd give more than a nickel to read more from this author...I thoroughly enjoy his work. This is a quick, compelling read that will stay with you for a long time.
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Format: Paperback
Fifteen years before he wrote his masterpiece Plainsong, Kent Haruf produced this gem. The Tie That Binds will surely find readers as a result of Plainsong, a fine story about brothers and loneliness and tenacity in the High Plains community of Holt, Colorado. Haruf's first novel also features the relationship between siblings, the dutiful Edith Goodnough and her simple brother Lyman, both children of failed homesteaders condemned to a hard life on a dryland farm south of Holt. She is, in the words of the narrator, Sanders Roscoe, her admiring neighbor from the adjacent ranch, a person who "continued to endure by plain courage and a clear eye to duty." In her 80 years, Edith has known 4 men well - her own flawed father and his feckless son Lyman - and another father and son, John and Sanders Roscoe, who are the only persons in the world who truly understand her courage, incredible sense of duty, and beauty. But, as Sanders says "understanding it doesn't mean liking it". Edith's story is haunting yet inspirational. Sanders wonderful narration is filled with the stoic truths of the Great Plains: "Life ain't fair" and "If you can't understand it, you just have to accept it" and "It wasn't anybody's fault. It happened; that's all." The tenor of The Tie That Binds is reminiscent of a two very different classics of the Plains: Larry McMurtry's "Last Picture Show" and Ole Rolvaag's "Giants in the Earth." Having grown up on the Eastern Colorado plains, I swear I know many of the characters. They are as genuine as the real article and every bit as tragic. Five stars without reservation.
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