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Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  164 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
With crystalline prose that evokes with equal power the sweat of hard work and the complexity of human foibles, Kent Nelson's novel is destined to earn him many new fans. When Haney Remmel dies in an accident, he leaves to his wife Mattie an alfalfa farm in the plains of South Dakota and a devastating secret. Mattie must wrestle with both, deciding to keep the farm running ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 317)
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Dec 01, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing
The setting is perhaps the most important "character" in this novel. The land, the water, the history. The land is southwest South Dakota, 4000 acres southeast of the Black Hills and west of Pine Ridge. The water is scarce, it has to be guarded from theft and coaxed into irrigating marginal land that maybe shouldn't be farmed anyway. The recent history involves the Lakota, Custer, Wounded Knee. The ancient history is found in the bones and fossils found in a sinkhole on the property.

Mattie and H
After her husband, Haney, is killed in a farming accident, Mattie Remmel is left with a 4,000 acre alfalfa farm on the South Dakota plains. Haney's death, while devastating, is only the beginning of Mattie's heartache. While going through Haney's papers Mattie learns that Haney was not the man she had always believed him to be but that he had another life that she had known nothing about. Mattie forges ahead with the farm, enlisting the help of her college-aged daughter Shelley who returns home ...more
Nov 28, 2013 Cat. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
WOW. I wouldn't have picked this up if I hadn't read a review--in Book Magazine, which is gone now. A moment of sadness in its honor....

This is a book that fits in with Atticus and Plainsong and Mavis about strong, modern westerners. This follows Mattie and her life directly before and after the death of her husband, Haney. It also climbs inside the heads of her daughter and the "hired man" she hires who calls herself Dawn in this incarnation of self. With the addition of a runaway Indian boy,
Feb 09, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
I first saw this book when it was in hardback - I wanted to read it bad, but waited for paperback. Then it got shelved. Finally, what, 4 years later - I grabbed it off the shelf and dug in. Once past the first chapter or so, I was totally hooked. Mattie and her husband have a farm/ranch in S. Dakota. Unexpectedly her husband dies. Her daughter Shelley comes home from college for the summer and helps out. They hire Dawn to help fix things and kind of adopt a runaway Indian boy and together, they' ...more
Jan 05, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
Maggie Remmel, newly widowed when her husband dies in a farm accident, decides to try to keep running their farm in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Her college-aged daughter Shelley is the only help she has, until an adrift young woman named Dawn turns up, is able to repair a piece of farm machinery for Maggie, and convinces Maggie to hire her. Shortly after, a young teen Indian boy is seen around the farm, and Maggie leaves food for him. Gradually, she wins the boy’s confidence and takes him i ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Ursula rated it really liked it
This was a great story of three women; their strengths and their weaknesses and a run-away young Native American boy. The way the author has these characters come together is jst wonderful and a definite good read.
d Kate dooley
Sep 18, 2012 d Kate dooley rated it liked it
This book has been on my shelf awhile. I read part of it long ago. When I started reading it this time, I thought I'd watched the opening in a movie. It's well written. I like Dawn, whose name isn't Dawn. Dawn who came form North Dakota, never having been there, and who wants to raise Buffalo, who chooses rocks as allies, who fixes machines, sleeps on the ground, and always fights back. She's a minor character.

I'll finish this one. I'm 3/4 of the way through it and to the point where I'm thinki
May 06, 2016 Jan rated it liked it
Making a family out of people you care for, not necessarily of blood. Good portrayal of life on a ranch in SW South Dakota.
Jul 03, 2016 Geraldine rated it liked it
" I am going out to gather broken branches
rimmed with light
brittle as I am
under the weight of what you say is love. "
Jul 02, 2015 Edna rated it really liked it
Overall I enjoyed the story.
Jul 23, 2013 Mom2nine rated it it was amazing

"Author made a risky move, with all of his main characters being female. I think that he proves that a man can write female parts and do it well. Book should appeal to a variety of readers, as the three female lead characters are all searching for meaning, on some level. It is not too heavy on the romance, but there are definitely romances. Also, some scenes with "bad guys" and a solid story on the difficulty of running a ranch. I did not want to put this book down, very well done"
Oct 19, 2012 Su rated it really liked it
I so enjoyed my time spent reading this novel. The author was so gifted with his ability to turn mere words into a vivid picture in my head. The story takes place on a 4000 acre ranch in current day South Dakota. A husband dies, his secret is discovered, and the remaining characters form a deep and unusually strong bond that gives each of them something to rely on when adversity strikes. Again, the writing was terrific.
Jan 23, 2012 Sue rated it liked it
This was an interesting book set in South Dakota as a woman discovers after her husband's untimely death that his life held major secrets. She manages with help to run their ranch, and develops relationships with some interesting people. I didn't like the manipulative bad guys thrown into the story or the ending tying up all most all of the relationship conflicts, etc.
Nov 10, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of a woman and her daughter who are left behind to run a ranch in S.D. after husband/father dies in an accident. His well-hidden secret eventually comes out and has a profound effect on both mother and daughter. Interesting characters - both the mom and her daughter and their friends, neighbors, and hired staff.
Kyle Gutek
Mar 08, 2012 Kyle Gutek rated it it was amazing
I have never read a novel as delicate and honest as this. Each character has similarities in that they're searching for something--love, acceptance, home, and one another. Nelson's elegant details pull the reader into cracked arroyos, sweeping plains, and open skies. Readers will have fallen in love with the land that moves by the final page.
Mar 06, 2008 Elsie rated it liked it
Really expected something more dramatic to happen but it was a good read and shows how we can be as strong as we need to be and it always helps to have friends along the way.

When someone says "let me know how I can help" you really should consider taking them up on the offer.
Feb 20, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
I think my favorite part of this novel was the author's description of plains geography and rural living - the good along with the bad, and there was certainly plenty of both. There are lots of plot turns and sidebars, so my best advice is to expect the unexpected!
May 16, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
Zeke got me this for Christmas. He likes to pick out books for David and I for Christmas from used book sales. This one was a real winner. Thoroughly enjoyable read. I even recommended it for book club.
Mar 16, 2009 Quiltgranny rated it it was ok
Someone else reviewed this as "tough ladies in the badlands trying to farm. written by a man" I'll add "and it shows that it was written by a man." Good premise but so-so on execution.
Jul 25, 2008 Meaghan rated it really liked it
WOW. This book was great. It was like Anna Karenina's agriculture turned down a notch w/ some non-corny love stories. Loved it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Jun 11, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it
I heard this book reviewed on NPR while driving home.
The clincher was, "If you only read one book this year, this is the book to read."
I loved it.
Laura Stenzel
Jan 31, 2008 Laura Stenzel rated it liked it
Read this one for book club... Definitely enjoyed the language and the imagery... Still not sure how I feel about the characters themselves or the plot line.
Jul 10, 2011 Devi rated it really liked it
This is a good story with characters that you can care about. The story moves at a good clip so the book never drags.
Feb 26, 2011 Terry rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
After her husband's accidental death, a woman must confront her demons while trying to reestablish a home and run a farm.
Jennifer Wilson
Dec 26, 2011 Jennifer Wilson rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books from a Midwest author who didn't get nearly enough attention for it.
Feb 07, 2012 JQ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unpleasant people doing unpleasant things and having unpleasant things done to them.
Nov 25, 2011 Randine rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Had it in a box for years and finally read it.
Karen S
Jun 14, 2010 Karen S rated it liked it
Read too close in time to Eventide. This paled by comparison.
Sep 14, 2008 Debbie rated it liked it
A good read. Continuing my obsession with the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Pat is currently reading it
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