This book was pretty damn phenomenal.
Letty, young woman of 18 years has lost her mother, and with no money or near relatives to live with in her native Virginia, goes to live with her cousin and his family at a ranch near Sweetwater, TX in the 1880s. She's lived a privileged white life, with her mammy taking care of her and she's never done any hard work/labor. She comes to a bleak land devoid of any water, dust is everywhere, and the wind never ceases. She has no skills, no training, and no hardiness to deal with the barren land, and is incredibly sensitive to the ever persistent wind. She has to live a life she never imagined nor wanted, with skills she's never had. She's young, and naive. She's a precious doll, and she is destroyed by the land and wind that takes life, light, and cheer as it will.
The wind is just as much of a character in this book as any living, breathing person. It reminds me of A Woman in the Dunes (a fantastic film, that I adore), where the relentless elements drive a person to insanity and there's no escape from the endless torment of nature.
The fact that this book was written by a woman is wonderfully evident, and the battle between Letty and her cousin's beautiful, stereotypically strong and stoic frontierswoman wife is beautifully played, instead of becoming a pathetic cat-fight. Letty is not only feeling trapped by her life and her sex, but at odds with the one woman who might have been able to guide her through her new life.
I loved it - the stark awful landscape blasting a sensitive woman to the bone, the desperation, the hopelessness... the fatal mistakes and the constant thoughts towards what her life should have been. And the wind taking what it wants, and refusing to bow down to any will of man or woman.