Novel Excerpt: Journey West

Lynn Pruett ’82 is the author of the novel RUBY RIVER and numerous short stories and essays. She has received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and enjoyed a residency at Yaddo. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Murray State University and divides her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Four Hills Farm in Salvisa, Kentucky. Read her blog at “Journey West” is an excerpt from a novel-in-progress, which won the Nob Hill Penwomen’s Novel award this year.

July 1898

Emmy Dunning chose the last row of the passenger car. She placed her bag on one seat and sank into the other. As the train moved across the Pennsylvania farmland, she observed the green hills, the small farmhouses, the white and black cows, motionless but for their mouths and tails. A frieze of middle America right now, she thought. Miles away from a war in the warm waters of the Caribbean. How peaceful the cows are as their udders replenish, how content.

She leaned against the cushion, grateful for the extra space. The double across from her was empty. Could this luck of privacy continue across the whole continent? She wished so. After a while she took out her pen and journal and wrote of her time in Delaware, and her dreams for a future that seemed lovely. She had been running away for such a long time that running toward something required new patterns of thought. She would certainly find John’s alleged mistress. She would start with Laura Cannonero, whose letters suggested knowledge of the affair. If Laura’s claims were true about John being a co-respondent in another? divorce case, that was the evidence she’d need to divorce him. She’d have to check records, find a lawyer as soon as she got back to San Francisco. Continue reading