Book: The Old Lonesome

The Old Lonesome, by Plentywood native Carol Benson, is a pleasurable escape to another time and place. It's essentially a fictional collection of childhood experiences in Plentywood, Montana during the 1940s and 1950s as told by Jeanne, who is the third of five children and the daughter of a creative, somewhat trapped mother and a politician father. Carol Benson has a gift for description, and it is through Jeanne's eyes that the reader has a chance to relive some of the basic elements of childhood—wonder at the beauty of a landscape, the simple pleasures of the outdoors, the enchantment of grandparents, and those first inklings that our parents are only human.

Some may see The Old Lonesome as a collection of ramblings with little plot or real forward movement, and that might be a fair criticism. After all, it's not until the last third of the book or so that we really see the main character in any sort of real conflict that lasts beyond a paragraph or two. The advantage to this, of course, is that it makes for a rather sudden, dramatic ending. Regardless, the author's talented use of imagery and detail makes The Old Lonesome a sensual book that is uncomplicated, unstressful, and a perfect respite from the here and now.