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Heart of the West
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Heart of the West

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  574 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Clementine Kennicutt, a ladylike New Englander, aches to leave her home and her oppressive father. So when Gus McQueen, a cowboy with laughing eyes and big dreams, presses her to elope with him to his Montana ranch, she is ready. But nothing has prepared her for the harsh realities of frontier life, or for the unpredictable hankering of her heart--and least of all for the ...more
Hardcover, 591 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,293)
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Katrina Passick Lumsden
*Yes, there are spoilers. You know the drill.*

I like Penelope Williamson. I really liked The Outsider, enjoyed A Wild Yearning, and even have a bit of a soft spot for Once in a Blue Moon. So imagine my disappointment when Heart of the West turned out not to be a pinnacle of western historical romance fiction, but rather, an exercise in patience. I think that after this book, someone should crown Penelope Williamson Queen of the Meandering Plot.

We begin with Clementine Kennicutt, a 17-year-old B
...more
Jessa ♥dhanger♥ EvilDarkSide
Wow...what can I say. This was a beautifully written story about love, loss, acceptance and so much more. Clementine is young and naive(at times) about life and love. She runs off and marries Gus, a certified Cowboy, thinking that it will be a grand adventure straight out of her dreams. But what she finds is the harsh reality of living life in the unforgiving territory of a Montana ranch. Her dreams are further shattered by a slow realization that her heart was meant for someone else....Gus's da ...more
Crista
This is not just a romance novel...it is not just a western novel....it's not just a tale of fiction...it is an epic novel that involves many characters, over a long period of time, coming to find themselves and each other in a very turbulant time and landscape. It is not "fast-food" romance. It is deep, enduring, long, involved, and emotionally taxing. It is a true "four-course meal" of a book.

There are no easy answers in this book. The characters are real with real problems. Relationships are
...more
Zumbagirl
Heart of the West may be the most beautifully written book I've ever read. Many years ago, I read The Thorn Birds and fell in love with Australia. That was a story that broke my heart and stayed with me forever. Heart of the West is very similar; it will always have a very special place in my heart. At first, I was scared to read it - it's a story that I knew would touch on something which troubles me - what if you fall in love with a man while married to a different man - a good man, but not yo ...more
Fani
I can't say much to do this book justice. It's incredible. It's an epic romance set in wild Montana during the era of silver mining and the main theme is the forbidden love between the heroine and her husband's brother. But to say that the book is solely focused on that would be a lie; there are also other points addressed like racism and fear of strangers, a woman's place in society, the insecurities caused by the love affair between an older, rich woman and her young, poor lover, the question ...more
Anna
This book is an epic western romance. It is well documented, so it allows you to learn lots of things about how the pioneers lived. It also has a bunch of authentic characters, well defined, charming and interesting.

But I didn’t enjoy this book because I wanted Gus dead . See, Clementine, who lives oppressed by her father, finds Gus, with his tender eyes, tender smile and handsome body and elopes to Gus’ ranch. But then, she meets his brother, Zach and the fireworks start. And it is not fair. Z
...more
Anna A.
This is the first review I am writing of a book and I'm doing it just to get it out of my system. I did read other books by PW first: The Outsider (I've found that paradoxically it falls short of the consistent and coherent beauty and artistic value of the film it inspired) and A Wild Yearning (with all its fantastic writing style, I think it was just a cheap lustful romantic story).

As other reviewers have pointed out, Heart of the West is a magnificent and engrossing epic novel set in Montana,
...more
Dawn
I started this book with great expectations, and for the most part, was not dissappointed. She creates a dramatic balance between reality and dreams and manages to tell a tale full of struggles,pain and grief in such a way that you feel the hope and love even more intensely.

I only recently discovered Williamsons books and just fell in love with her stories, characters and the magnificent artistry of her use of words. She has a really unique way of imparting the story so that you gradually develo
...more
Misfit
Sixteen year old Clementine Kennicutt, Boston born and raised in an authoritarian and pious household yearns for something more, and thinks she's found it when Montana Cowboy Gus McQueen runs her down on his bicycle. They marry and they're off to Gus's Montana ranch, although Clem, who is used to servants performing menial tasks, is in for a shock as things are more rustic than she had anticipated, let alone learning to deal with the mud, rains, wind, wolves, Indians and severe winters. Gus turn ...more
Sharon
This is the 2nd book I have recently read by Penelope Williamson. I am making it a point to get my hands on every book I come across by this extraordinary author.


The story spans about 7 or 8 years of the in depth life and love this young New Englander has for 2 brothers. It also includes the lives and loves of her dear friends in a small Montana town in the late 1800's.

Right off, this lonely abused heroine stole my heart.

She was nine when she learned about the cowboys...

The family had hired a yo
...more
Angela Wade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wicked Incognito Now
I read this a LOOOOOOONG time ago, but I still remember it being intense, realisticly written, and utterly heartbreaking. It's an extremely meaty book that covers many years. It's the sort of epic romance that isn't written these days.
Julie Cotton
Time: 1879-1891
Place: Montana, Rain Dance Country, Rainbow Springs
# Pages: 591
Although it took me about 150 pages to get into it (out of 600, mind you), once I did, I felt like I was living it. Williamson describes everything so clearly, like I was actually there. I loved Clementine's determination not to let Montana beat her, and how she came to love and respect her way of life out there - with or without a ... man. I liked her ability to support herself with her passion for photography even th
...more
Morgan
'Heart of the West" follows the lives of three women who meet up in the unlikely location of RainDance county Montana in the later 1800's. The first of the three women is Clementine, a free spirt and mentally tough 'women grown', who leaves the comfort of her Bostonian home to marry a cowboy, Gus McQueen. Once in RainDance county she realizes that life in Montana, and with her new husband, is not like the dreams she had when she was younger. Clementine befriends the 'town harlot' Mrs. Hannah Yor ...more
Regan Walker
Magnificent Montana LOVE STORY from a master writer of romance!

Penelope Williamson has done it again! This historical romance that will tear at your heart covers twelve years (1879-1891) in the lives of Americans trying to carve out a life in Montana frontier. She weaves a masterful tale with incredibly accurate historic detail and dialog to bring to life the people who made the West: Easterners, cowboys, Indians, Chinese, Irish, miners, railroad workers, merchants, ranchers and those who preyed
...more
Mmeguillotine
O, beautiful book! It's long but it never stalled for me. It doesn't pander to the reader. You don't get to have everything your way right when you want it to be. You have to wait. You have to watch characters you love suffer and you also get to deal with the frustration, compromise and newly defined (as opposed to dreamed of) happiness that occurs in real life instead of only in lovely romantic fiction. This is a slow, gorgeous handful of a book and I actually wish it were twice as long. Penelo ...more
Leea
Mar 18, 2014 Leea marked it as to-read
Recommended to Leea by: Jessa ♥dhanger♥ EvilDarkSide
Buddy read with Kay!! Thanks Jessa for the recommendation...
Andria
I liked this book. Granted, there was quite a bit of racism-towards Indians, Chinese, and anybody tht wasn't purebreed american-but it had its moments. There was quite a few characters that I really liked, not to mention the main female character, Clementine. She's one of those few independent girls of the old days, where she wants to be able to do the one thing of her dreams-photography.

Back then, photography wasn't small easily portible cameras, they were heavy bits of equipment that were exp
...more
Ridley
Jun 04, 2013 Ridley marked it as to-buy-big-publisher  ·  review of another edition
Yay! This is being re-released as an ebook! I've always wanted to read it, but I couldn't manage the tissue-thin pages in the paperback.
Carol Judge
What a fabulous read, albeit a very long one, with not one unnecessary sentence or character. Intense and passionate! This is a saga, but takes place over only 12 years. The author encompasses within this book a kaleidoscopic mixture of characters -- all extremely well-drawn and vivid in depth -- all woven intricately and perfectly into the story. The chemistry between characters is sizzling! The historical background is complete, well-researched, and beautifully presented. The elegant descripti ...more
Emily
This book was recently reprinted in paperback & the new cover really drew me to it; little did I know how long this sucker is! It was good story, but long and drawn out. Absolutely an exercise in patience reading this one (the hardcover is almost 600 pages, the paperback is a whooping 800). The main storyline of the book is about a Boston-bred girl who runs away with a cowboy to live in the Wild West of Montana. Unfortunately, when she meets her new husband's bad boy brother he is the one th ...more
Sieni A.M.
An historical and epic story that spans YEARS--years filled with hardship, back breaking hard work, friendship, love, solitude, and tragedy thats takes place on a sweeping land that is both harsh and beautiful.

A long and heavy read that tells the perspectives from many diverse characters as they come together in a small town to fulfill their dreams. The perspectives from three remarkable women--a new bride, a saloon owner, and a Chinese immigrant--enriched the second half of the book. Their tal
...more
Lisa
I loved The Outsider by Penelope Williamson, so when I saw this book on the Venice (California) Library book sale rack for $1.00, I thought I'd give it a try. Heart of the West is an ambitious historical romantic western; it's long at 591 pages, but the main character, Clementine Kennicutt McQueen is strong and believable. Here's what I liked about the book: Williamson paints a realistic landscape of how tough life must have been in the Montana territory in 1879; there is plenty of mud, wind, fi ...more
Mary23nm
Here are my thoughts on Heart of the West . The first part of this book is a solid "5". The writing is fantastic and descriptive. Somewhere in the middle though, the pace changes, and it's more of a struggle to read. Perhaps it's because of all the different characters being introduced. Then it picks up again as some of the characters find their happy endings and finally the main characters. It leaves the reader(at least this one) a bit unsatisfied, as all the description is gone-the couples in ...more
Scarlett
Heart of the West is another classic from Penelope Williamson that tugged at my heart the whole way through. When I first saw the name Clementine I thought here we go another "polly anna" type but Clementine's character was very original and a joy to travel with. This is a story of growing up, first love and passionate love. It will stick with me for a long time.
Bgurl
For my opinion of "Heart of the West", please read Katrina Passick Lumsden’s review. I couldn't have said it better myself! Actually, I wish I had said it myself. I'll admit to being a little jealous of how perfectly Katrina articulated my feelings about the book. Her review was so dead on, that I actually laughed out loud, then immediately passed it on to my friends to read.

That being said, I did give "Heart of the West" 2 more stars than Katrina. Why, you ask? Because I found that the book is
...more
Lorraine
This is one of my favorite books, almost #1 but not quite. A wonderful story of ill-fated love in the old west. The most important character in the book is Montana--her wind, strength, and loneliness. A very strong female heroine and her strength against nature, men, and intolerance.
Sara
If you're looking for a highly entertaining and gripping western love story, this is your book. I unashamedly admit it's one of the best escape reads. I've read it twice in the last fifteen years, and was immersed in the story each time.
Jacky Faber
For some reason I couldn't get into this book. I love Montana and Westerns but the conflict between Clementine and her husband Gus got repetitive and boring after a while. Also her hatred and love of Gus's brother Zachary. That was resolved in the last chapters of the book. So I skimmed a lot of the book. It was just too long, 591 pages.
Lea's Audiobooks Hensley
This is the abridged audio version.

Heart of the West in print for me? A solid A! In audio? A failure. Choosing to listen to Heart of the West for the Abridged category in my Listening Challenge, I had high hopes since it is narrated by Amy Brenneman as well as the fact that it's not a severe abridgement - it came in around five hours. I hoped the story could sustain some cutting but, alas, that was certainly not the case. Williamson’s writing is rich and all that richness was missing in the abri
...more
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Penelope Williamson is an internationally renowned author of historical romance and suspense. Penelope Williamson was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and spent the first eleven years of her life as an US Air Force brat. She has a B.A. in history, an M.A. in broadcast journalism, and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years, where she reached the rank of Captain. She has more than 1.8 million books in ...more
More about Penelope Williamson...
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“Rafferty gripped his brother's shoulder and pushed him in the direction of his wife. She was rolling on the fresh-turned earth of Charlie's grave now, and her cries were no longer human. "Go hold her. Go on, even if she fights you, but, dammit, hold her." Go on, brother, before I do, because if I do, you ain't ever getting her back.” 6 likes
“I wish he was mine," he said. The words slipped out without thought, but there was no taking them back...

"I love Gus," she said, cutting him deep, deep. "Not only is he my husband, but he is honorable and noble and good, and I vowed before God that I would love him." She made a harsh tearing sound in her throat. "When I saw him that day, when he knocked me over with his bicycle, he was like something out of a dream, my dream." She looked at him, and her eyes glittered like shards of glass. "Oh, God, God, how could I have known, how could I have known? Up until that moment, you see, he was the closest thing I'd found to you.”
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