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Sun Going Down: A Novel

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  209 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Part history, part romance, and part action-adventure novel follows the fortunes of Ebenezer Paint and his descendants - rough and tough individuals caught up in Civil War river battles, epic cattle drives through drought and blizzards, the horrors of Wounded Knee, the desperation of the dust bowl, and the prosperity of the roaring 1920s.

The cast includes a grizzled Missi
Hardcover, 467 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by A Touchstone Book (first published 2008)
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Apr 01, 2011 Connie rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and recommend it to any reader who enjoys Western life and family sagas.
This novel follows three generations of the Paint family struggle through 70 years from Mississippi to the Dakota Terratory. The hardships and struggles of the Paint family will keep you glued to the book. During the Civil War, Ebenezar Paintnd marries Cora,and they have twin boys, Eli and Ezra. Ebenezer chases riches,and by 15, the boys are orphans and cowboys—and involved in a risky but profitable bit of
Jun 28, 2008 Steve rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of historical fiction
Recommended to Steve by: found it browsing in a bookstore
Shelves: read-in-2008
This is a well-written book, and the only reason I gave it three stars (instead of four or five) is that it is so ambitious in scope that it doesn't quite live up to expectations. Loosely based on some letters written by the author's family, this is a multi-generation novel that takes place primarily in South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska in the 19th century and early 20th century. The characters are well-drawn, but suffer from a lack of the type of in-depth description we readers crave. There is ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, which was a quick read despite its thickness. The real-life background to the incredible story lines makes it all the more fascinating. The author's descriptions of the places his characters (er, family members) inhabit is well crafted -- not overdoing the detail, but choosing the right details to give you the feeling of the place. Like many other (mostly male) writers, Todd seems obsessed by sex and rape scenes. And in this book, some of them are necessarily horrific. I cou ...more
Linda Dittmar
Sep 24, 2014 Linda Dittmar rated it really liked it
Todd is a good writer...visually one can see the west being settled...the pioneers, with all their struggles, personally, with neighbors, the law, illness, etc. The characters come alive, and upon finishing reading, the reader wishes it could go on. This is based on Todd's own family's account of coming west as ranchers. These people were real, they get up every single day and endure struggles we can only imagine, and yet they persevere. Of course, there is jealousy, vice, argumentative relative ...more
Sonya L Moore
Oct 14, 2016 Sonya L Moore rated it liked it
From Amazon:
"Part history, part romance, and part action-adventure novel, Sun Going Down follows the fortunes of Ebenezer Paint and his descendants—rough and tough individuals who are caught up in Civil War river battles, epic cattle drives through drought and blizzards, the horrors of Wounded Knee, the desperation of the dust bowl, and the prosperity of the roaring 1920s."

From Publishers Weekly:
"Three generations of the Paint family struggle through 70 years of hardship and heartache on the Wes
Jan 05, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it
I don't read too many Westerns, and I happened on this one by accident. I acquired the second book, then realized I needed to read the first one first, which turned out to be a Western of sorts. This is the story of the Paint family from Civil War days until right before the Great Depression. The story line includes riverboating for commerce on the Mississippi, a move to the plains of Nebraska, then Montana. It involves ranching, farming and doing whatever was necessary to survive as a settler. ...more
Bill P.
Feb 11, 2011 Bill P. rated it really liked it
This novel had been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years, not sure why it took me so long to get to it. Having finally picked it up, it wasn't long before this multi-generation saga had me hooked. The first scenes of life on the Mississippi during the years of the Civil War are engaging but it became riviting for me when the central characters of Eli and Ezra come into the story. There is a lot of familiar ground here for readers of western historical fiction, but the author's skill in ...more
Cynthia Meyers
Feb 10, 2017 Cynthia Meyers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the first in a trilogy.
Carla Ford
Oct 07, 2009 Carla Ford rated it it was amazing
Jack Todd was able to turn his family memoirs into a beautifully written novel that encompasses history from the California Gold Rush right through the Great Depression. He introduces some wonderful characters - beginning with Ebenezer Paint piloting a steamboat down the Mississippi River. The descriptions of life in the west are incredibly vivid. The hardships, struggles, and the joys of the Paint family make a great read. There were some odd twists, and some sad stories, but if you keep in min ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Quiltgranny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more I think about this book, the more I like it. It's a well paced saga of a family of pioneers moving across the country to Montana and Wyoming. There's some pretty darned exciting tales, and some moving accounts of illness, and how people managed to live in these extremely rugged and harsh areas. I truly enjoyed the tales that were tied together through time by 4 different rivers. What made it even more enjoyable was after I read the author's notes at the back of the book. It seems that t ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Rick rated it liked it
Shelves: the-great-west
Todd’s Sun Going Down is a good read…a multi-generational saga spanning the Mississippi River basin between Vicksburg and St. Louis to the High Plains country of the Missouri River watershed — all of which mirrored the author’s own family journey. Todd paints the Paint family with a wonderful sense of place. These were lifelong horsemen, ranchers and cattlemen first, and farmers only when they had to be. What strikes the reader through the narrative is that people haven’t changed much in the las ...more
Feb 13, 2010 Leah rated it really liked it
This is typically not the kind of book I am drawn to, but my mother-in-law highly recommended it, so I thought I would try it. It is a story told from the Civil War through the Depression about several generations of one family. It started out interesting, but a little too violent for me, and then it became very dry. Thankfully, I kept reading and the last 3/4s of the book are really great! It is a page-turner, but very sad and very graphic at times. The characters are interesting and it is base ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults
Shelves: 2008-books
The sweeping family epic is my favorite type of book. This was one of the best I have read in a long time. This book runs from the Civil War to the Depression and involves four generations of a family intent on settling the "wild" west. I especially loved the women in this book. They were strong, intelligent, stubborn and completely human. They are exactly what I picture when I think of women who tamed the frontier. The fact that they were based on the authors ancestors made them even more lovab ...more
Carla Hostetter
Sep 13, 2016 Carla Hostetter rated it really liked it
This is an epic western saga vividly written and chock full of outstanding characters. Based on family stories, Todd tells the tales of the ones who "stuck" to develop the west. It is rather hard to put down until we get to Velma's grim story which goes on and on, nothing but hard work, illness, and little joy.Though I have no doubt women were treated poorly in this era, the detailed violence and rape scenes were hard to take. But for that, I would have given this book five stars. Still, a good ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Jo rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
A multigenerational novel about the families who settled the great plains is good companion when it's blizzarding outside and you're nursing a bad cold. I am extremely grateful for central heat and indoor plumbing.

The opening chapters were a little slow but the book grabbed me by the collar when Ezra and Eli were born. Headstrong men and strong-willed women settled this country or died trying and this book tells their tale.

I would have liked a little more depth to the main characters and the en
Mar 28, 2012 Jean rated it liked it
I loved this book. The author develops his characters well and I was quickly taken in and attached to them; further wanting to learn more. There was one area in the middle of the book that was a little slow and you got the impression that the author either didn't know where he wanted to go with the story or that he was not much interested in writing that phase of the book. I thought his depth of historical background was wonderful and his descriptions captivating. I would read something else he ...more
May 06, 2011 Jaclyn rated it liked it
It took awhile to get used to the way the author didn't use quotation marks. The way he goes through the generations and switches viewpoints is interesting and well done, as I imagine this would be a difficult thing to do successfully. Once finished the book, I felt like something was missing, like it wasn't supposed to end just yet. Perhaps this was purposeful because obviously the family will continue with the next generation and the next... but, even so, the book felt like it was missing a ch ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like to follow a family through many generations
Recommended to Richard by: I liked the title
If you were to ask me what kind of books I would not choose to read, this is that kind. This epic of a family covering many decades building the Wild West with the usual assornment of good guys, bad guys and totally screwed up relatives is absolutely not my favorite. But, I could not stop reading this.

This was an advanced reader copy that has languished on our shelves for years, but once I started it, there was no stopping. It would make a better TV series than Lonesome Dove.
Wendy Hicks
Jul 23, 2008 Wendy Hicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could classify this as an adventure/historical/family saga, that happens to be set in the American West post Civil War. Terrific writing, gritty characters -- lots of reasons to turn the pages. Mining his own family diaries & letters, the author has created something that feels real, as it incorporates events like Wounded Knee, the dustbowl depression, and the war between the states. If you loved Cold Mountain or Enemy Women, give this one a try.
Bob Plank
Jun 17, 2008 Bob Plank rated it it was amazing
An excellent saga of the American West encompassing the period from the California Gold Rush, thru the Civil War, the settling of the Great Plains and the Dust Bowl & Great Depression. Although fictional it has a historical basis and is generated from the author's family letters. memoirs and verbal histories. It's scope is broad and visual, the characters rich & vibrant and is meticulously detailed and well-crafted. A must read...........
Cam King
May 25, 2009 Cam King rated it really liked it
If you like Westerns like Lonesome Dove, you'll like this. The book begins on an old paddleboat plying the Mississippi River during the Civil War and the Seige of Vicksburg. It follows the life of Eb Paint, former boat captain, who with his brother find themselves in Nebraska and Wyoming. It is also the story of several courageous women and how they survived life in the harsh conditions of the West at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
Jan 03, 2011 Lynnette rated it really liked it
This was a good, adventure-style book--guys would like it. It's based on the author's family memoirs and starts with the Great Grandfather running a steamer on the Mississippi and emigrating to the Dakota territory and Nebraska.
You had to be lucky to survive as a pioneer. This is the time of throwing up a
sod hut, stuffing mud in the cracks, and hoping you make it through the winter.
You Wilsons from So Dakota (and kind of Nebraska) should read this. Lynnette
Blaine Morrow
Mar 09, 2015 Blaine Morrow rated it really liked it
Wonderful family epic that depicts the hardship of life in the prairie states during the late 19th century, along with the love and determination that enables a family to endure and survive. The characters are well developed and lovable, despite their flaws, and the plot is absorbing. The fact (at least the author says it's a fact) that this saga is based on true family history is remarkable, though this could stand alone as outstanding fiction.
Dec 09, 2009 Heidi rated it really liked it
Westerns are not my usual genre, but I was intrigued that this was based on letters and diaries, written by the author's ancestors, that track the story of an American family with all the joys, sadnesses, hardships, and successes. I wasn't disappointed. I'm looking forward to the sequel Todd hinted at in his afterward.
Aug 13, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-reads
This was a book I didn't know if I would like, but the epic western was one I couldn't put down. I was completely impressed with the 3 generations of Paint characters and how they made their mark on the west. The women in this novel were especially dynamic--thanks Jen for recommending this at book club!
Jan 12, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Loved this beautifully written epic following several generations of the Paint family, based on the real family history of the author, Jack Todd. The characters and their lives became real as I reaqd the vivid descriptions of life on America's prairie lands, spanning the decades from the 1860's to the 1930's. I f you enjoy this sort of book, you will love this.
Jul 30, 2012 Kay rated it it was amazing
I loved this book & can not wait to start books two & three of the trilogy!
The struggles of this family through the years between the civil war and the world wars, the children, mothers, fathers, the economy make for an epic story.

OMG! Hollywood should come calling for a long series movie....I loved it
Jan 29, 2012 Melanie rated it it was amazing
I'm not a huge fan of the western genre but I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It tells the story of the Paint family through several generations as they try to make it on the frontier. In fact, a lot of the story was based on the author's real family history. He is supposedly writing a sequel...can't wait!
David Burke
Mar 29, 2012 David Burke rated it really liked it
Here's another writer vying for McCarthy / McMurtry status. This one could go on your book shelf beside Lonesome Dove or Blood Meridian with no shame to it at all.

One aspect I found different is that it jumps around a lot - Mississippi River to Montana to Dakota to civil War battles. It never gets boring.
Geo Forman
Jan 18, 2013 Geo Forman rated it did not like it
The best thing I can say is "interesting". I did not finish the book. I found it lacked continuity and depth. I was unable to engage in the characters. It was more anecdotal and, for someone with a fatuation of the old west, this could be an entertaining book. I lost patience while thinking of other books on my list to read.
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