Dickie Sinfield was seven years old when her father decided to become a cowboy and move his family from their comfortable suburban home to a small run-down ranch in Clayton, Utah. From her first stock show to the day she turns eighteen and flees for the comforts of the city, Dickie bucks the cattle-ranching lifestyle and yearns for manicured lawns, housebroken pets, and neighborhood playmates. Yet she reluctantly finds herself drawn to the vast, desolate landscape of the desert and the solitude it offers—a feeling she won’t acknowledge even within herself.
Now a grown woman, Dickie is a respected reporter in Salt Lake City, convinced that physical distance and a convenient but passionless relationship will erase the memory of her painful childhood. But when her brother dies in a tragic accident, Dickie finds herself back in the farmhouse she tried so desperately to abandon. Suddenly, she is faced with her family’s past and a love she’s never admitted to, bringing down the walls of her carefully contrived existence.
Accustomed to the physical boundaries city life entails, Dickie feels emotionally exposed by the fenceless expanse of the ranch. As she navigates her past, piecing together relationships, romance, and the pull of the mountains themselves, she finally confronts the pivotal moment of her childhood—the horrifying discovery that made her flee the desert so many years ago.
A novel that spans two generations and vast landscapes, The Last Cowgirl brings to mind the writing of Pam Houston and Barbara Kingsolver. Richman’s provocative prose, pulled from personal experience, will strike a chord with anyone who has been faced with demons from their past and found solace in the space around them.