Eventide (2004)

by Kent Haruf

Eventide continues where Plainsong (1999) left off in the fictional Plains town of Holt, Colorado. Victoria Roubideaux, who had found a home with the aging McPheron brothers as a pregnant teenager, is still with them, along with her two-year-old daughter, but they are about to leave for Fort Collins, where Victoria has enrolled in college. Divorced schoolteacher Tom Guthrie, his two sons, and his new love, Maggie Jones, also return. New characters include the mentally challenged Betty and Luther Wallace, struggling to cope and raise their two children; Rose Tyler, the Wallaces’ social services caseworker; 11-year-old D. J. Kephart, caretaker for his elderly grandfather; and Mary Wells, whose absent husband has announced he is not returning home to her and their two daughters.

Haruf weaves many themes, including loneliness, family breakup, change, illness, and death, into multiple story lines that intersect. Except for the villainous Hoyt Raines, Eventide’s imperfect characters are all sympathetic. The novel is melancholy but also positive in portraying a community where people care for one another. Several of the characters take turns for the better by the end.

Haruf’s writing is straightforward, spare, and clear, favoring insight over technique. All five of his novels are set in the Plains of northeastern Colorado, where he grew up and which bears no resemblance to the mountains for which Colorado is known.


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