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St. Agnes' Stand [Hardcover]

Tom Eidson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1994
July 1858: Nat Swanson, a bullet in his leg and bone-weary, flees across the New Mexico desert from a vengeful posse. Back in west Texas, he killed a man over a woman whose name he never knew, and now he’s on the run to California, his only hope for a new life the ranch deed in his pocket.

In a dry riverbed, Nat spots two overturned wagons surrounded by Apaches. The only sign of a survivor is his quick glimpse of an old woman’s face–a face that forces a stark decision. Nat can ride on and save himself, or stay and try to save the stranded and doomed party. Sister St. Agnes, huddled between the wagons with her fellow nuns and the orphans in their care, somehow knows that God will answer her prayers and send a savior to deliver them from evil.
As death shadows the dusty arroyo, the forsaken canyon becomes a place of destiny where a courageous nun and an embattled man confront their fates together.

“Taut, spare, visual prose reminiscent of Larry McMurtry.”
–Publishers Weekly

“This debut is highly recommended . . . so alive, so exciting . . . heart-wrenching and heartwarming.”
–Library Journal

“Compelling . . . a powerful feat of storytelling.”
–The Irish Times

“Eidson has emerged as a major contemporary voice . . . [His] novels are set in the Old West, but his characters are scraping for a foothold on the frontier of the soul.”
–The Advocate & Greenwich Time

Winner of the Golden Spur Award and the W. H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Putnam Pub Group (T) (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039913915X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399139154
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,163,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Spare, violent and exciting…recreates an unforgiving world in which a moment’s distraction could prove fatal.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Compelling…a powerful feat of storytelling.’ Irish Times

‘The pace and tension are unremitting, but there’s also time for some heart-wrenching emotion.’ Daily Express

‘The writing is excellent and the atmosphere of place is first rate.’ Dee Brown

‘Eidson writes clean and lean, with a hint of sage incense, and can strike a lingering chord. Should make mellow celluloid entertainment.’ Kirkus Reviews

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Thomas Eidson is the author of four previous novels including the award-winning ‘St Agnes' Stand’, which has been optioned by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. In 2004, Ron Howard made his novel ‘The Last Ride’ into a feature film, ‘The Missing’. Thomas Eidson lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Western makes a comeback 11 Oct 2006
I read this a couple of years back. My sister bought it for me for Christmas - a most unlikely choice for her, and told me to read it. Finished it Boxing Day, and absolutely loved it. What better recommendation?

I'm no great authority on the genre. I enjoyed the gritty realism of Cormac McCarthy novels. This is much more in the great tradition of the Western. It has a great pace, and that simple morality that great western movies have.

I'm about to recommend it for my book group, and was amazed it wasn't already reviewed. I'll revisit this review in more depth when I've re-read it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful prose 17 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I just loved this novel. The harsh setting (wild West) is vividly described,the characters are totally credible and faith is the issue. I was absolutely hooked. It is, however, the style of writing which makes this book such a memorable one. Words are not wasted. A thought-provoking and satisfying book. Highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars utterly gripping 2 Dec 2000
By KiwiJu
I agree with the other comments - a fantastic story that hooks you from the very first page and doesn't let go. I read the whole book in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down until I had finished it. BUY THIS BOOK!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I picked up this book on a whim in a London airport and didn't put it down until it ended, eight hours later on the other side of the Atlantic. Eidson has to be one of the finest writers I have ever come across for his stark and simple prose and for allowing us to feel the soul of a storyteller. This is the prefect book for a trans-Atlantic that will send you searching thorough bookstores trying to find another one to match it. He hooks you on the first line and doesn't let go until the last page. I wouldn't call this a "western", although it is that in part, but more than a western, his book is a story of humanity and the human condition that wins you over on all fronts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great western with more... 11 Feb 2000
This book is characterized by really tightly written prose that richly evokes the texture of existence in the desert Southwest. I could readily picture the quality of light and rock in each scene, as Eidson captures it all so easily with his simple, fluid style.
Here is a book ostensibly about how a cowboy gets stuck trying to save a group of nuns and some children, that deals with issues of God, faith, life, death and a clash of cultures.
If you liked this book and its themes and style, you might also like to read Brian Moore - an author with a similar spare and easy style as Thomas Eidson's...
Write on Thomas Eidson!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tersely written Western transcends the genre. 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
You Britons have all the luck! St. Agnes Last Stand is virtually unavailable in the US. The copy I read around the first of October ('98) has since travelled through dozens of States and at least as many hands. It is that kind of book, the kind that doesn't collect dust on a shelf, a story passed from friend to friend. Set somewhere (probably New Mexico) in the high southwestern desert during the later part of the 19th century this is the story of the fateful intersection in the lives of the redoubtable heroine St. Agnes, a resourceful but rootless Cowboy drifter on the run, and a terrifying band of Mimbres Apache. The book will satisfy anyone looking for a gripping escapist adventure.It is a thoroughly entertaining story. It is also absolutely spot-on in authenticity with the time, setting and characters rendered with complete authority. The reader's knowledge of the time and place will grow with the reading. But the most interesting part of the book is the way the author, like a clever angler, uses this gripping tale to lure us into involvement with the characters as they are forced by harrowing circumstances to consider the spiritual intersection of their respective faith, free-will and fate. Mother says the shortest sermons are the hardest to write and greatest ones are always short. This story in it's brevity and focus is reminiscent of the best of Hemingway. It is as unforgetable as it is enjoyable.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the story of a woman's great faith in a hopeless siege situation, and the effect it had on those in her care, her attackers and a would be rescuer. It is well written and keeps you wanting to turn the page. It is however very violent, and the images stayed with me (but then I don't like violence). My other reservation is that the representation of American Indians is wholly negative. The story moved along fast, and the two main characters were likeable: overall a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St Agnes Stand 27 Oct 2008
A beautifully crafted, poignant novel, delivering tragedy, suspense and joy from start to finish. If you hate any genre with a 'western' theme, don't be put off, the story is unique and un-put-downable. I am sure his editor could have milked this and made it a 300 page novel, but the restraint and economy of the book, only 175 pages, makes every perfect word count. This has got to rate in my top five books for 2008.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching story that you won't forget.
This is a wonderful story that you cannot fail to be touched by. An unusual western with unusual characters. One that will tug at your heart strings.
Published 23 days ago by MK
5.0 out of 5 stars A great western novel
The prose in the novel is very sparing - you have to pause between paragraphs to absorb the story. The tale is earthy and unflinching. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John Egan
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual book
I enjoyed its depiction of the power of faith, in an unusual setting of the desert and outback during the nineteenth century
Published 10 months ago by Anne Parry
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
One of my favourite books ever. Everyone I have recommended it to has loved it. I have read other Thomas Eidson books and enjoyed them, but this is by far and away the best.
Published 11 months ago by H. MacDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant book
I was hooked from the first paragraph which is unheard of. I expected to dislike the story as I am not a fan of Western's. Read more
Published 14 months ago by mr daid jonathon clay
5.0 out of 5 stars best of thomas eidson novels
Read thsi one first. Was so impressed bought more of this writers novels. None as good. Bought it again as once more lent out and not returned this time. Read more
Published 14 months ago by E. Auchterlonie
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This was a choice for my book club. It's not the kind of book that I would normally read but I found it a gripping , well-written story.
Published 14 months ago by Brian Robbins
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine writing but moral qualms.
This novel seems to me the product of an accomplished writer, who knows the world of which he writes and possesses a fine ear for language. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bluecashmere.
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnifcent book
You don't have to like westerns to appreciate this book.Do yourself a big favour and read it.Brilliantly written . Read more
Published 24 months ago by sheepdog
3.0 out of 5 stars Page turner
I must have enjoyed this book because I read it so quickly, but felt it lacked depth. The characterisation was simplistic and I would like to have seen a more balanced approach to... Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2011 by Andante Chesed
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