To see the pattern of Edie Pritchard’s relationship with the men in her lives is to also see a primary reason why our country has been so deeply troubled for so long. These men seem to think only about what they want. They insist on getting what they want. Often the women join them, as they fall in line with generations of harsh cultural training. Edie manages them at times, in order to avoid a crisis, or gets away when she must, but ultimately I’m left wondering about the possibility of connection and change. We see her for decades before she wonders who she really is outside of other people’s projections, sometimes complicit by giving in to men’s pressures. The moments when she fiercely stands her ground are memorable, and her ultimate independence is admirable. There’s a little room for redemption too, as characters keep learning about themselves and others, but societal change is slow and people pretty much remain who they are. Watson is an expert at detailing the feel of American western traditions confronting a modern world, one long hard-scrabble day at a time. He’s a strong writer, and maybe his greatest asset is that he won’t budge on stubborn truths for the sake of comforting outcomes, which gives him ultimate credibility but leaves my jury still out on the question of hope.— Tim McCarthy
Edie--smart, self assured, beautiful--always worked hard. She worked as a teller at a bank, she worked to save her first marriage, and later, she worked to raise her daughter even as her second marriage came apart. Really, Edie just wanted a good life, but everywhere she turned, her looks defined her. Two brothers fought over her. Her second husband became unreasonably possessive and jealous. Her daughter resented her. And now, as a grandmother, Edie finds herself harassed by a younger man. It's been a lifetime of proving that she is allowed to exist in her own sphere. The Lives of Edie Pritchard tells the story of one woman just trying to be herself, even as multiple men attempt to categorize and own her.