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Turpentine: A Novel
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Turpentine: A Novel

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  186 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
A comic glance at the old American West and a serious story about transformation and redemption, Turpentine is a bold, inventive novel about a young man’s attempt to make sense of the past while unsteadily growing into adulthood. In 1871, Edward Turrentine Bayard III, sick and restless, leaves his Connecticut home to recover out west. But when the private sanitarium in whi ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 10th 2007 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published January 1st 2007)
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Bruce Woodbridge
Oct 24, 2007 Bruce Woodbridge rated it it was amazing
Dickensian novel disguised as a Western, along the lines of "Great Expectations" meets a Zane Grey story. Set in the mid 19th century (post-Civil War), the story follows a young man from sickness and poverty through health and success. Various historical figures make a cameo. I took a chance based on the blurb and the cover - I was not disappointed. A very good story, well written and interesting, and kind of upbeat in its own way.
Apr 11, 2009 Melanie rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the best I read in a long time. The characters are well defined. This book has funny, laugh out loud moments. For me,though, the story was gritty and hard to read at times due to the realism in the story telling. The last chapter was amazing. By way of warning, I am an animal lover and have trouble when bad things happen to animals. It happens in this book, but works within the story.
Mar 31, 2010 Rob rated it liked it
A fun romp in the 19th century old west...very entertaining.
Apr 15, 2008 Tami rated it it was amazing
Edward Turrentine Bayard III is a man without a name, without family, and without a living. After the death of his beloved grandmother, he was sent to Nebraska. He was told that he was going to a special facility with great hopes of curing his ills. Instead, Ned (as he becomes known) finds nothing. Penniless, he takes a job as a buffalo skinner. Then impatiently waits for a reply from his mother. Little does he know that his estate back home is gone, his inheritance is gone, and his mother has g ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Tim rated it liked it
You likely will find Spring Warren's "Turpentine" nestled next to Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" in your bookstore. Nice digs. Likewise, the book "Turpentine" in some ways might aspire to be, "Little Big Man," is an all-time winner. Spring Warren's debut has some nice writing to recommend it, but falls well short of Thomas Berger's novel.

This first-person account of Edward Turrentine Bayard III's days as an American West buffalo skinner and his subsequent transformations has the ingre
Sep 27, 2008 Dirk rated it really liked it
Sometime in the 1870’s Edward Turrentine Bayard The Third, an invalid most of his 17 years, is bundled up (and bled and dosed with some medical arsenic) by his personal physician and then sent off to Nebraska to a private sanitarium where it is hoped the fresh air and Western spirit will help him recover his health. Problem is, when Ed gets to Nebraska he finds out the sanitarium is a hoax.

Letters sent home are unanswered and Ed finds himself abandoned on the plains and starts working as a buffa
Jan 13, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok
Recommended to Amy by: Sheri
I'm not really sure how I felt about this book. I liked it, but I also don't care much for bittersweet books, which this one is. It also took me a long time to get into the story, but once I did, I had a hard time putting it down. The book was very well written, there were some very coloful characters, and there were a lot of layers to the story that made you feel and think about the negatives that life throws at you when you're just trying to do right. That said, the ending felt rushed to me an ...more
Jake Bialos
Jun 25, 2016 Jake Bialos rated it it was amazing
I really REALLY enjoyed this book. Loving originally voiced historical fiction that rings true, I was enchanted with Spring Warren's funky and idiosyncratic characters and incidents. Also, the surprises in the novel have deep points to make on the nature of Love and Value and Constancy and Faith. All this with considerable humor and gore and perspective. The young scamp "curly" is worth the price of admission alone. Destined for a bad end from the get go, his dialogue is hysterical to read and h ...more
Mar 13, 2010 emily rated it liked it
I may never have said this before, but there's too much plot in this book. So much so, that I found myself checking back a page or two to remember "oh -- did this character die?" or "wait -- I thought we were still in Connecticut." The speed with which we moved from one thing to the next meant that there was never time (or, that the author never took the time) to make the characters particularly knowable, and that things that should have involved some tension (the scene in the mercantile, for on ...more
Oct 21, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-4-star-books
As soon as I finished reading this book, I began to miss the characters in it. Always the mark of a very good read!
Young Turpentine seems to be blindsided by life and yet his resiliency is remarkable. Led by his own naïveté, he finds himself adrift among scoundrels and opportunists in the early days of the American West. He manages to stumble through more incidents than any one human ought to endure and he is so darn likeable you find yourself rooting for him all along the way.
This is Spring W
Paul Landes
Mar 16, 2013 Paul Landes rated it it was amazing
Funny and uproariously sad at times I absolutely loved this book. I tried to stay ahead of this author to see where she was going, but I obviously lack her talent and vision. The writing style is unique and creative in its very own way, which for me kept me perfectly in tune with the events of the time and kept me turning page after page. One of my all time favorites for sure.
Mar 29, 2010 Corinne rated it really liked it
Shelves: norcal-writers
Very entertaining, funny at times and heartbreaking at others. I'd love to see this optioned for film. The narrator is exasperating at first - a young man with romantic notions and flights of fancy - but as the novel progresses he grows up. The last chapter seemed a little rushed; all the scenes up to that point were very detailed, but the last felt as if it were trying too hard to wrap things up. I don't recall the last time I read a novel categorized as a western, and I don't know if I would a ...more
May 07, 2012 Sandie rated it really liked it
An absorbing and entertaining story about a weak and meek young man who travels to the western frontier to recover his health and instead ends up earning his character the hard way. (He gets his health back too - the hard way!) The best thing about this book, though, is not the story, but the characters. Some really well-drawn, unforgettable folks populate this country, not the least of which is a contrary horse named Chin. Spring Warren really surprised me with this one, and I will seek out mor ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Janet rated it it was ok
Finished reading Turpentine, and it is a fun story with a lot of action. Maybe a little too much, which adds to a lack of flow in the story. Although the book was a pretty enjoyable read, I think it would have benefited greatly from a more vigilant editor. The author tried to cram too much into the story and there were actually dates/times later in the book that didn't jive at all with what had come before. But, all in all, it is a fast and fun read.
Barbara Bravo
Aug 21, 2008 Barbara Bravo rated it really liked it
Warren starts out her tale with the first person narrator as an engaging but callow youth. As he matures with experience and adventure she is able to change his tone and language to reflect his growth. The young protagonist is sent "out West" for his health but the story cuts back to Connecticut and academic circles, to labor rallies and Pinkerton agents and back to Indian country without losing its focus. It's 400 pages but a good, fast read.
Jul 24, 2012 Holly rated it it was ok
This book exhausted me! Things just kept getting worse and worse and worse and worse and and worse and if it's even possible, even more worse for the first 98% of this book! It was just plain frustrating to me! I endured because I just had to find out if things would FINALLY come around in the end. The ending was nice, but man, it was a LOT of work to get there.
Nov 07, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
This book started out very slow. About 25 pages in, I was about to toss it back in the library drop box when I saw that it had received really good ratings on this site. So, I kept with it. What do you know, about 60 pages in and I was hooked. It was a great read and kept up my interest. I loved Chin and following Turpentine's antics and calamities. Would recommend it.
Sara Tuschen
Apr 24, 2014 Sara Tuschen rated it liked it
Every once in a while a pick out a book for an unknown reason. Read the whole book then wonder why I chose the book in the first place. This was just not my type of book. I've got to agree that is not your typical western, which I didn't mind. I didn't attach to the characters. I didn't connect with the storyline. The writing was descriptive and easy to follow. I wasn't drawn into the story.
Aug 10, 2014 Jackie rated it really liked it
This is a book about the WILD West and a young man who grows up to be a provider for his family. He certainly did not grow up in the West, so he learn by trial and error, and at great losses, especially in the friend and family department. I really loved listening to this book, because the vocabulary was quite eloquent in the colloquial way and the acting marvelous.
Oct 05, 2008 Leslie rated it really liked it
I did not like the main character at first - much too wimpy and effeminate to be the hero in a Western - but he grew on me as the story progressed. I liked the story overall - an easy read, and entertaining.
Feb 03, 2009 Kristin rated it it was ok
I found the main character whiny and the tale itself to be very choppy. It seemed as though she wrote three stories and threw them together. There were compellng parts, but not worth the time I spent reading it altogether.
Apr 23, 2015 Dennis rated it it was amazing
The place I work has a book exchange shelf, upon which I've found several books that I otherwise would probably not have read. This is one of those. I'm glad I found this one, possibly one of the best books I'll read this year.
Nick Woodall
Jan 22, 2016 Nick Woodall rated it it was amazing
For a first time author, she hit a home run out of the park! This book is hilarious, and I learned a ton of new words! Don't recommend it for kids, because of some sexual content. She simply should have left it out, but most modern writers simply can't resist.
Nov 16, 2008 Drredman rated it really liked it
Fun read with the landscape as a character which I really enjoyed.I also enjoyed the storyline and the characters we met.
Jan 13, 2011 Sheri rated it really liked it
Here is another book that had a ton of research behind it. I felt as if I were on the Prarie. Very detailed and brilliantly written.
Nov 16, 2008 Marc rated it liked it
It's classififed as a western, mostly because of the era, but that's about it. Wasn't an awful read, but it wasn't something I'd suggest either.
Nov 10, 2008 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
One of the best books I read this year. After I read it I wrote the author to say thanks - and insist she write some more.
Marc D.
Dec 12, 2011 Marc D. rated it really liked it
Turpentine was a very refreshing read. The language took me back to the images of the Deadwood TV series. This book is a wester, pioneer story, love story, drama, and just plain fun.
Aug 27, 2008 Jerrilynn rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Easy to read, the story flows nicely. The main character developes a sense of who he is.
Nov 10, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Entertaining story about the trials and adventures of a young man sent west to regain his health. It's a good story and I bet Spring Warren's next one will be even better.
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