Sunday, December 12, 2010

Riding Shotgun

By Rita Mae Brown

Cig Blackwood is a widow with two teenage kids and a heavy mortgage. She has a full time job as a realtor and she is also running a boarding stable for horses and is very much involved in the local sport of fox hunting which involves riding cross-country on horseback, following the hounds as they track down a fox.
Her husband, Blackie, died about a year ago. Theirs was not a good marriage, as Blackie was either incapable or unwilling to remain faithful to his wife. Cig knew about his many infidelities but she put up with it because she loved him and also for the sake of their children. But on the fateful day at the start of this story, Cig has just found out, while in the middle of an intense fox hunt, that her beautiful younger sister Grace was in her husband's arms at the moment of his fatal heart attack. Naturally Cig is furious with her sister for her betrayal and for keeping it a secret from her for a year.
But then something strange happens to Cig while on the fox hunt. She spots the fox and follows it into a thick fog. As she trails the fox, she seems to travel through different eras of time, first passing some 1920s vintage cars, then a Civil War sentry with whom she shares her sandwich, then finally ending up in the 1600s, on the farm of her distant ancestors, who welcome her home with open arms, believing her to be their sister, Pryor, home from a voyage across the sea to London.
Cig finds that, despite its inconveniences, life in the 1600s suits her immensely. She likes the peace and quiet, she likes the closeness of the community, and she likes the simplicity of life then. She even meets a man who is a dead ringer for her own dead husband Blackie and he is just as smitten by her as her husband was back in her own time.
But nothing is ever as simple as it appears and the fly in the ointment is the unrest of the local native tribes. Just when it seems Cig has found a new love, the Indians start acting up, and no one can take anything for granted any more.

I have read quite a few of Rita Mae Brown's books and, for the most part, enjoyed them. But I can't say that I enjoyed this one, which I frankly found boring. Reading about Cig back in the 1600s was just not interesting. Even with the threat of the Indian uprising, the story just never captured my attention. I think part of the reason was Cig's constant moaning about how awful modern life is with its noisy conveniences like telephones and TVs and its smelly cars and factories, and the loss of the connection to neighbors that people had back when your neighbors were vital to your survival. It was a constant theme throughout the book, how much she hates modern life. I got pretty sick of it. One of the first things she does when she gets back to her own time was throw a perfectly good TV into the garbage and then she rips the phone connector out of the wall. Seemed really stupid to me and wasteful besides. I didn't really like the Cig character, but besides that, the story was just not that interesting.

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