Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: June 2012
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
A saga of the homesteading the American West, “Little Century” recounts the journey of Esther Chambers, an 18-year-old orphan looking to establish her place in the world. As Esther finds herself falling in love with sheepherder Ben Cruff, her allegiances are tested by her cousin Pickett, a rancher and sworn enemy of Ben’s.
In the tradition of such classics as My Ántonia and There Will Be Blood, Anna Keesey’s Little Century is a resonant and moving debut novel by a writer of confident gifts. Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless frontier town of Century, Oregon, she’s met by her distant cousin, a laconic cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. Pick leads her to a tiny cabin by a small lake called Half-a-Mind, and there she begins her new life as a homesteader. If she can hold out for five years, the land will join Pick’s already impressive spread.But Esther discovers that this town on the edge of civilization is in the midst of a range war. There’s plenty of land, but somehow it is not enough for the ranchers—it’s cattle against sheep, with water at a premium. In this charged climate, small incidents of violence swiftly escalate, and Esther finds her sympathies divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, a sworn enemy of the cattle ranchers. As her feelings for Ben and for her land grow, she begins to see she can’t be loyal to both.Little Century maps our country’s cutthroat legacy of dispossession and greed, even as it celebrates the ecstatic visions of what America could become.