Ride With Me, Mariah Montana Synopsis

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"We are a family that can be kind of stiffbacked," Jick McCaskill reflects with a characteristic sense of life's complications as he narrates this final novel of the classic Two Medicine trilogy. In English Creek Ivan Doig gave us the West of the l930's; in Dancing at the Rascal Fair, the alluring Rocky Mountain frontier of the late nineteenth century. Now, by way of Jick again and another cast of ineffably believable characters, he brings the story forward to l989, Montana's centennial summer. Jick, facing age and loss, is jump-started back into adventure and escapade by his red-headed and headlong daughter Mariah, a newspaper photographer: "Pack your socks and come along with me on this," she directs. The grand tour she has in mind is centenary Montana by Winnebago, but the drawback is the reporter assigned with her, restless-minded Riley Wright. "Listen, petunia," says Jick, "I don't even want to be in the same vicinity as that Missoula whistledick, let alone go chasing around the whole state of Montana with him."

But chase around they do, in beguiling encounters with the American road and all the rewards and travails this can bring—among them, a charging buffalo, a senior citizens' used car caravan, astounding bartenders, obtuse admonitions from the home office, and blazing arguments (and a surprising alliance of convenience) between Mariah and Riley. And just as the centennial is a cause for reflection as well as jubilation, the exuberant travels of this trio bring on "memory storms" that become occasions for reassessment and necessary accommodations of the heart.

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