The Tie That Binds
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The Tie That Binds

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,324 ratings  ·  277 reviews
The beautiful and heart-rending first novel from the author of Plainsong.
Published June 7th 2002 by Picador USA (first published 1984)
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This is Kent Haruf's debut novel written in 1984. I figured snce I've read and really enjoyed his third and fourth books, I'd check out his first book. Boy am I glad I did!

The book opens with 80-year-old Edith Goodnaugh lying in a hospital bed and guarded by police as she has been chargged with murder. On the basis of what evidence? Who died? What happened?

The Tie That Binds is the life story of Edith Goodnaugh, her brother and her parents. It's the story of decisions and choices made by Edith...more
Jan 19, 2013 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chelsea, Sue, Connie
The Tie That Binds is Haruf's first book and Wow! what I wouldn't give to write that well. For all intents and purposes, I read this in two sittings.

It is the story of the Goodnough family: Roy, Ada, Lyman and Edith as told by their neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. The book begins with a Denver reporter trying to cajole the backstory of kindly, 80-year old, Edith's murder charge from Sanders. That is all I'm going to tell you, read the book if you want to know the rest.

Haruf's subject matter and writi...more
If you enjoy Willa Cather, chances are you enjoy Haruf. This novel is the third one of his I've read. The others were "Plainsong" and "Eventide."

"Tie that Binds" was his first novel, and he got off to a flying start. It is smooth, convincing, and packed with quiet, compelling emotional issues. Like his other novels, it is set in and around the tiny town of Holt, Colorado, during the first half of the last century, and the characters are agricultural types. Some are struggling, some are affluent...more
Slow to develop, this tells the tale of a woman in her eighties accused of murder and who has lived a hard-scrabble life on the eastern plains of Colorado. As with all of Haruf's novels, the characters become fully fleshed by the narrative until, by the end, we feel like we know these people. The story is told from the point of view of the next door neighbor who witnessed a great deal of the pain inflicted on Edith and her brother Lyman by their tyrannical father whose legendary rage was directe...more
Kent Haruf tells a story like no other. I read four of his books in a week and hunger for more. He doesn't need gimmicks or fancy stuff to make his plots and characters sing. His writing and storytelling skills are enough to keep me glued to his books.

His books all take place in a small imaginary farm town in Colorado which makes it remarkable that I love his books so much: I have never particularly liked stories that take place out west, but I adore Haruf's. The settings and characters make me...more

Set in the plains of Colorado from the early 1900s to 1977, Kent Haruf’s The Tie that Binds is a beautiful story of real life, real people, and real meaning imparted by genuine relationships. Sanders Roscoe drives a Denver newspaper reporter away from his door in fury, but he welcomes the reader into his home where he tells an enthralling story of life on the American Plains—in particular, he tells of a woman called Edith who lies in hospital bed, charged unexpectedly with murder.

Sandy’s father...more
I imagine that listening to The Tie that Binds on a long trip in the car would be a wonderful experience - I hear the voice of Paul Harvey narrating it in my mind. It is a slow, rich, retelling of a story from someone who clearly cares deeply about the people involved. Sanders Roscoe is Edith and Lyman Goodnough's neighbor and closest friend. Not husband and wife, but brother and sister who grew up with an emotionally abusive father who stunted their emotional maturity so much that they didn't b...more
What is it about Kent Haruf's books that is so compelling? They all pull me right in, so that I don't want to stop reading. I think that some of the reasons are different for "The Tie that Binds" (his first book) and "Where You Once Belonged" (his second) as compared to his two most recent books, "Plainsong" and "Eventide." I think that the later books have been pared down to their essence; descriptions of landscape and weather are an integral part of the plot and characters. "The Tie that Binds...more
Spare and smart, expertly crafted and moving. The first-person narrator of this debut novel reminded me of a cross between the Stage Manager in "Our Town" and a character Gary Cooper might have played. It's as if he's seated at your kitchen table spinning his tale over an extended afternoon tea, telling the story to you and only you. The writing is restrained, richly detailed, resonant, full of quiet desperation, lyricism, and a hint of American gothic. It's amazing the scope that can be achieve...more
I like this author, too! I read Plainsong, and liked it a lot. This is his first book, and I enjoyed it very much. The style of the narration evokes the kind of life people must live on the plains, and the families that grow up out there without a lot of conversation, happiness, or rewards - other than eking out their survival in the difficult climate on the difficult land. To me this was a story about love - the love of a man and a woman, the love of a man and the land, the love of a son and hi...more
I love everything I've read by Kent Haruf. This book was his first novel, set as the others are in Holt, Colorado. His voice and style seemed to have been fully formed from the outset, because this book is as strong as the ones that followed. The pacing, imagery, characters, dialogue, and trajectory are confident and familiar. If anything, his characters in this book are stronger than in the others, but in no way are they hard to imagine in his fictional community of Holt. If you've enjoyed Haru...more
The best Kent Haruf book so far, this book kept me up way past bedtime. You will fall into this story and never want to climb out. There is tragedy, there is acceptance, there is love and hate beyond anything most people would ever tolerate in their lives. I love the way he writes and can only say this: We all have access to every word that is out there and how we choose to use them makes us what we are. Kent Haruf is brill. Sit down.
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Haruf's humble characters resonate with authenticity. Haruf's characters are so real, so genuine and alive that the reader can't help but develop an empathy for them that is rare in fiction today. This is a spare, harsh novel about "the tie that binds" - which in this book is family. But in this case, the tie does not just bind, but almost strangles Edith, the central character. She is tied by obligation and a sort of love that defines her life. Haruf never allow her to put her desires or needs...more
This is Kent Haruf's first novel, and I hate him for that, because it is just so good. Well, not hate, just some good old fashioned writer jealousy, but mostly he inspires me. It isn't as perfect of a novel as Plainsong, but it is heartbreaking and true. It is the story of a brother and sister who are very much stuck in there life, and the neighbor who is tied up with their life. It paints the Colorado plains in vivid detail, and gives honest and real beauty to the life of working with cattle. H...more
This book was beautifully written, if long-winded at times, but I found the story and characters dreary, dull, and depressing. The storyline has interesting plots here and there but I feel the author sums up the entire book in the following quote from Chapter 6: "After that we all settled into our ruts again. And sometimes, looking at this story, it seems to me like that's about all it is: a series of independent ruts. Some of them lasted for four or five years and some lasted for twenty, but th...more
Piper Silverthorne
Mar 29, 2008 Piper Silverthorne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
This man's style of writing is akin to a grandparent's storytelling, but a theatrical, wise, and unhurried one. The tale is laid out, bare, before you, and it is the insights into intention that are just under the surface that keep the weight of the prose substantial. Little is directly revealed about the characters, it is their actions and their words which speak of their outlooks and desires, and you are shown a spectrum of both, which very realistically mirror true life. It is a real story, a...more
The Tie That Binds was much heavier on voice and slightly lighter on dramatic interest than Plainsong, though the two are ultimately a lot alike. Chances are if you liked one, you'd like the other. I felt that Plainsong whittled each story down to the bare essentials - almost every scene was a revelation and crackled with drama. Since it followed just one storyline, TTTB was much more up and down in terms of intensity, though some of that was offset by the charm of the narrator.
Evan Hughes
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A rich, beautifully told story about real people in real life. Set on the Eastern Colorado Plains between 1900 and 1977 The Tie That Binds focuses on the relationship between two families that become intertwined through the years, in a way that only life on the plains can allow. Through ups and downs, trials and tribulations and moments of joy and happiness you get a taste of what it may have been like in these peoples' lives at this point in American History. That said, The Tie That Binds is mu...more
Kent Haruf is a good author, I'll likely read more of his books. This was his first published novel and I really enjoyed it.

I wasn't crazy about the ending, but it could've been worse. It was a very depressing book for the first half or so, and really my favorite part is the six years after Lyman returns to live with Edith. I was also a fan of Roscoe's son (the narrator) and his wife. The reviews on the back of the book are very generous as usual, but this book actually deserved those rave revie...more
I love Kent Haruf. I am from a small town just like Holt and he writes about life in a small Colorado town very authentically. I love how his "simple" characters are really very deep. In this book, I loved the complicated relationships between the characters and the way the book begins at the end (and doesn't get wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end!)
Beautifully told story of the simple, yet hard life of one woman in the plains of Colorado from turn of the century to 1977. It's a sad story, but the author somehow brought this dreary, dull life of this woman to such a height of fascination that I was overwhelmed with love and affection for poor old Edith. Great read.
Hard to read,because i would feel sad when i read it.The characters lives are real enough that you may come to feel for them.He paints a stark picture.I still wanted to keep turning the pages and find out what happened next.Very well written.
Many famous writers dance around you when you crack the cover of a Kent Haruf novel, but I don't mean to suggest that he's not his own man, his own writer. It's just obvious that he has a high literary aptitude coupled with a unique talent to tell a story, and tell it well.

I have, in an earlier review, compared his style to that of John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers, respectively. But, here in his debut novel, I also felt the force of other great influences: Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Wa...more
Deeply disturbing in so many ways yet compelling... Would I read it again? Yes. Would I recommend it? Only with caution. It would be a great book club book in that there is so much to discuss.
I love strong narratives, and this one takes the cake. Told as a first person narrative, I never tired of the voice as sometimes happens. Sanders Roscoe is telling us a long story, starting in 1898 with his dad and the neighboring farm, and ending in 1977 or '78. Some he knows, some he's been told, some he surmises. All the time you wonder how you got picked to be trusted with the whole deal. That feeling of privilege is coupled with the honor he pays to his long suffering neighbor, Edith Goodno...more
"The Tie That Binds is a novel where nothing much happens, yet I’m afraid of giving anything away. If nothing else, that shows how deep Haruf goes into ordinary lives to tell a story--or better, to show that these are stories worth telling. In this first novel I can see all the hallmarks of his later works. The only clue that he might be a less confident writer than in his later novels is how he uses the framing device of the journalist to introduce the real story to the reader. I suspect if thi...more
Beautiful, just like Kent Haruf's other books. He tells the story of an elderly lady who was tied by blood and misplaced loyalty to her miserable, abusive father and dimwitted brother on a lonely dry farm in Colorado. She worked endlessly in hard labor keeping the farm going, the house going, and caring for a foul-mouthed, bull-headed man who lost all his fingers in a farm accident. She turned down marriage to someone she loved and withered from a lively, pretty girl to a worn out woman of 80, y...more
I think this is quite possibly Kent Haruf's best book, which is a surprise because the books that followed it were all fantastic, but for a writers first book to be this good, does not happen often.
The story is about Edith Goodnough a woman living on the plains of Colorado and what she has had to endure in her 80 years living there. It is told by her neighbor Sanders Roscoe. That's it, that is all the book is about. The writing- the story telling skills- of this author are extremely rare, you ha...more
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Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation...more
More about Kent Haruf...
Plainsong (Plainsong, #1) Eventide (Plainsong, #2) Benediction (Plainsong, #3) Where You Once Belonged West of Last Chance

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