“Augusta Locke” by William Haywood Henderson
Again, there are books I’m reading now (as a mother) that resonate differently with me than they would have pre-having my son. William Haywood Henderson’s “Augusta Locke” is one such novel. It’s the story of Augusta “Gussie” Locke, who leaves her family behind as a teenager and makes her way through Wyoming for the rest of her life, trying to get work, meeting people, sometimes dressing as a man, having a daughter of her own, and trying to find a place in the world while still remaining a wanderer.
Now, I don’t love this book. I probably won’t keep it on my shelf, because I know I’ll never re-read it. That said, it’s a well-written book, with prose that perfectly conveys it’s rural western setting and quickly defines characters. There were certain sections of it – such as a sequence where Gussie’s daughter earns the over-attention/obsession of a woman who lost her own son years ago – that are breathtaking, and terrifying to read as a Mom myself. Gussie is a perfectly imperfect heroine, and no one in the book is entirely likable – just like real life, right?
More than once, it brought to mind “The Grapes of Wrath,” which I totally mean as a compliment. Take that as you will – if you liked Steinbeck’s epic classic, “Augusta Locke” might be one you should read.