Sibling rivalry turns sinister in Rowland's outstanding debut, which follows a Montana ranching clan as it struggles to survive the Depression, two world wars and family tragedy.
Narrator Blake Arbuckle finds himself torn between trying to preserve his tattered family and striking out to pursue a baseball career, after his older brother George drowns in the Missouri River near the family's ranch, and his younger sister dies of spinal meningitis.
George's death brings out the manipulative dark side in another of Blake's brothers, Jack, who is suspected of foul play in the incident, and after a series of bitter fights with his father about ranch work, Jack takes off and enlists in the army. He reappears several years later with a beautiful woman, Rita, in tow, and Blake's instant attraction for his brother's bride increases as Jack's various character flaws begin to resurface and he eventually leaves Rita.
Blake turns down his chance to escape after a promising tryout with the Cardinals, and the family turmoil over the fate of the ranch increases exponentially when another brother, Bob, brings home Helen, a partner as devious as brother Jack. Rowland's examination of family dynamics is poignant and revealing, especially as he unveils a series of revelations about Jack's womanizing, his fraudulent war record and a series of unscrupulous business deals culminating in a scheme to take control of the ranch.
Original title: In Open Spaces
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Ties That Bind→ Multigenerational Sagas