A Sandhills Ballad


A Sandhills Ballad

Ladette Randolph

356 pages


April 2011


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eBook (EPUB)

December 2013


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About the Book

After her life as she knows it ends in heartbreak, Mary Rasmussen, a strong-willed and independent young ranch woman living in the Sandhills of western Nebraska, suddenly feels that everything she has believed in—God, her instincts, the land itself—has failed her. She abandons her cultural and emotional ties, succumbing to circumstances she thinks she is powerless to control. In a rash decision, she marries a conservative, patriarchal preacher who doesn’t understand her, the ranching community, or anything beyond his own beliefs. Mary’s inner turmoil builds as she comes to appreciate the gravity of her situation and the need to take action.

Author Bio

Ladette Randolph is the director of Ploughshares magazine and is Distinguished Publisher-in-Residence in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing program at Emerson College. She is the author of the short-story collection This Is Not the Tropics and the editor of The Big Empty: Contemporary Nebraska Nonfiction Writers and A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers, both available in Bison Books editions. She is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation grant, four Nebraska Book Awards, including one for A Sandhills Ballad, and the Virginia Faulkner Award; her work has been reprinted in Best New American Voices 2000.


“Stark and engrossing, this debut novel . . . fixes an empathetic but relentless gaze on a woman determined to expunge the regrets from her life. . . . An immersing achievement, this novel should please any fan of good fiction.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is good, old-fashioned storytelling at its best, and Mary Rasmussen will live forever in your hearts as a young woman who faces enormous tests and survives in order to protect those she loves. Stubborn, determined, and loyal, Mary makes a life that requires both imagination and grit, and you end up rooting for her every inch of the way.”—Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife

“A nearly perfect book. The harsh Nebraska landscape is a complete character in its own right. Unforgiving. Somewhat distant. Aloof. Home. The human characters are more yielding, but only just. And the sum of what author Ladette Randolph creates here is unforgettable.”—January Magazine

“Randolph’s characters peel back the stereotypes, all the while exploring the truths and half-truths of the iconic Sandhills family, feisty, fecund, and invincible.”—Western American Literature

“Randolph has worked hard to get the Sandhills language right; she clearly has enormous respect for the ranching culture.”—Los Angeles Times

“Quietly moving.”—New York Times Book Review

Table of Contents

No TOC; 30 numbered chapters and an epilogue


Winner of the 2010 Nebraska Book Award, fiction category.

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