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The Tie That Binds

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  3,941 Ratings  ·  497 Reviews
Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 12th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1984)
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Sep 22, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fiction, read-2016
4.5 Stars

If you like well-developed characters and addictive stories, you'll love Kent Haruf as well as his first novel, THE TIE THAT BINDS.

Neighbor and family friend Sanders Roscoe narrates the life story of 80 year old Edith Goodnough and how she came to be lying in a hospital bed accused of murder.

Her long, unimaginable hard life is filled with tragedy and constant sacrifice as she lives with her wild exasperating father and thoughtless brother. Oh the life that might have been.......I just w

Sep 05, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
****4.5 Stars****I’m saddened that this gifted writer is now gone. No one (to my knowledge) has written such eloquent and truthful tributes to the people who live and work out on the high plains of eastern Colorado where I grew up. This novel setting is Holt, Colorado, an imaginary farm town very near where my own family homesteaded.

At times the story is heart wrenching and evocative. The author’s rich details of rural farm life and the connection with neighbors were spot-on and elegantly portra
A worthy finish to my reading adventures with Haruf's six novels about rural life in Colorado. Here we get a vision of the tragic life of Edith as the daughter of a selfish, stubborn, and mean spirited farmer in the high and dry plains of eastern Colorado. It is told from the perspective of Roscoe, a neighbor friend who also grew up in this hardscrabble life of farming and whose father once loved the warm and tough Edith. But a terrible accident makes Edith's father forever dependent on her help ...more
He can sure write old folks. And younger folks, and flinty ones that don’t do so good, weak ones that wish they could, bitter ones that are helpless to be anything else.
This is just the way it is. Here is life.
He illuminates grace in hidden corners.
Apr 07, 2016 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Most of what I'm going to tell you, I know. The rest of it, I believe."

When reading Haruf, a slight chill comes over you; you know where you are and where he wants you to be: Holt, Colorado. Whether fictional or not, Holt is not our New York City or Los Angeles, it's about as rural as you can think of, with cows, horses and other livestock roaming the pastures, it's what a hard-working frontiersman would call home.

This debut is one of his lesser known works, but this is where Holt began. Har
Cathrine ☯
Mar 27, 2015 Cathrine ☯ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars. I love the way Kent writes and enjoyed reading until about the half way point when It became clear that the lives and tale being played out were only going to worsen and the ongoing depressing storyline became tedious to experience. Eventually, I pretty much wanted to wrap up the actual book the way it ended. Four stars is supposed to mean 'really liked it' but I didn't. Yet I cannot give it less. He was a wonderful writer. His descriptions of the unrelenting hardness of farming made me ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-books
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
Jan 19, 2013 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Natalie Richards
Oct 09, 2015 Natalie Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book. I have never read Kent Haruf before but now I have to read all his others.
Sep 23, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-rated
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
Jan 01, 2015 Marleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Tie That Binds is the rather unforgettable tale of Edith Goodnough born in 1897 in Holt County, Colorado. A woman who has slaved on her Dad’s farm for her entire life. From the outside, Edith’s life is pretty forgettable and insignificant in itself, weren't it for the neighbors’ young boy, and afterward grown man, who tells her story. And it’s the story-telling that makes this book so worth it. As a reader you get to hear the authentic account of Sanders Roscoe, who in his simple words bring ...more
Lynn G.
Another well-written story by Kent Haruf. Deeply affecting, tragic, and beautiful. The beauty comes from the love, loyalty, sacrifice, and amazing inner strength of one character in particular: Edith Goodnough. The Tie That Binds is populated with other fully formed characters that draw you into the stories, their lives, their inter-connectedness.

As is so often the case with Haruf's works, place is so much a part of the story that it, too, is a principal character. Haruf's descriptions of Color
Apr 18, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 30, 2014 Kimbofo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the high plains of Colorado, just seven miles from the fictional town of Holt which features in all of Haruf’s novels, the book tells the tale of a pioneering farming family, the patriarch of which is a rather angry, embittered man called Roy Goodnough who comes from Iowa.

But the story is not about Roy per se nor his delicate wife, Ada, but his daughter, Edith, who is born on the farm and spends her entire life on it, never having had the opportunity to marry or even leave home. When the
Kathryn Bashaar
May 07, 2016 Kathryn Bashaar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is tragic, but not completely dark. Edith Goodnough makes a decision early in life to sacrifice herself to her father and her brother, which leads to another very shocking decision late in life. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the narrator her neighbor Sanders Roscoe, Edith had another option when she was a young woman. But she didn't see it that way. And the reasons I say the story isn't completely dark are because Edith lives out her decision with such beautiful dignity and int ...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
Feb 17, 2013 lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 03, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top 10 books I've ever read. Maybe it is the similarity between the book & my own family, but I absolutely loved it! I grew up in south eastern Wyoming, very close to this imaginary town in north eastern Colorado. I currently live in a suburb outside of Denver. Having been to many of the locations, I felt like I was riding with Edith in that car across The Rockies, Denver & through Cheyenne.

My family were wheat farmers & I've heard many stories about farming the land. I can only ima
Mij Woodward
This is the 5th novel by Haruf that I have read, and as usual, I was drawn into the story he told and the people of that story.

The book was Haruf's first novel. Sometimes an author's first novel works, but sometimes a first novel shows that perhaps the author could hone his writing skills a little.

In The Tie That Binds, a couple of things did not work for me. (1) The reader learns every other chapter or so that 10 years have passed, or 20, or six years, or eight, and so on. Granted, Haruf prepa
Sunny Shore
Sep 30, 2015 Sunny Shore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its very hard to rate a book. Most books I like, since I chose them, might have known the author and the story line, etc. Liking is between 3 and 5. 2's are the books I struggle through and question why I'm even finishing it.
But then, there's Kent Haruf. His books are always 5's. He died last year, was a professor at many universities and writes beautiful novels about the west in modern times. A little like Stegner and I hear, a little like Cather, whom I read when I was young and hated, so tha
Aug 20, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2015 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the fourth time I have gone to Holt, Colorado with Kent Haruf. Each time I marvel at the beauty of his words and the landscapes he creates. The characters are not what you expect in a rural Colorado town. Their stories are deeply moving and will stay with you even after the last page is read. I highly recommend a visit to Holt with any of Haruf's books.
Sep 12, 2014 Marialyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a riveting story! The sadness of a life of such self sacrifice was explored through the compassionate eyes of a young boy grown to adult about a woman Edith who is charged with murder when she is eighty years old. Edith's life was one of tragedy, first being "enslaved" by a father who is dependent on his children, the tragic loss of her mother, violence, lack of kindness, and then onto her brother who literally forgot about her for twenty years and then comes home to her. Edith gives up all ...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
Apr 04, 2016 Emmi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully told story, a very sad story, set in a different world from today, especially from the urban east coast world that I know. I don't know how he does it, how he creates such real people, people with quiet tragic lives that you love right away. I love every book of his. I'm still saving his last book, it's been on my bedside table for months.
Feb 10, 2014 JeffScott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2009 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 25, 2009 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: almost-favorites
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
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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
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