When a knock on the door interrupts her nightly escape into the pages of a cheap romance, Midge, aka Beatrice Audra Smith, is understandably annoyed. Paperback romances may not be the world's best protection against the "lonelies," but what else is a 4'11", 87 pound, 30 1/4 year-old dreamer to do in the middle of the Enchantment Trailer Park in Santa Fe?
Enter Horace Decker, out on parole and in every sense a getaway man. He explains his presence outside Midge's trailer as easily as he will capture her heart: "I got paroled two hours ago. Jake said he got this cute little sister. Said to look you up." So what if the most memorable thing Jake ever did for his sister was strand her in a darkened church after stealing a sacred statue. Maybe this ex-con is just what Midge needs to forget the recent loss of her pet prairie dog. "Well come on in then," she says. "Any cellmate of Jake's is a cellmate of mine." Lucky for Midge. And for Decker. And especially for the reader. For the story of what happens when these two discover each other is by turns exhilarating and sad, humorous and heartwarming, and always engaging.
Set largely at the local race track, the adventures of Midge and Decker remind us that breaking even in life not only involves time, but luck, as well. Sometimes it's a matter of finding the right person. Or the right place. Or even the right horse, as Midge will realize after placing a most unusual bet: if Blue Lady wins the Unicorn Handicap, Decker will finally settle down, marry Midge, and give his name to the unborn child she carries by him. If Blue Lady loses, Decker can run away yet again.
Though made impulsively, Midge's wager quickly looms larger and larger in her mind. The fate of those things that have outlived their usefulness—old dolls and old horses that just cannot run—disturbs Midge, forcing her to act as a kind of savior. Her knack for turning discarded losing tickets into a winning system demonstrates that salvation is indeed possible in some cases.
The road to maturity is a long one, certainly longer than the race Blue Lady will run at the Downs, and sacrifices have to be made along the way. But maturity need not spell the end of innocence. While Midge learns that toughness is indispensable for daily survival (she agrees with Decker's characteristically succinct assessment of human existence: "Ain't nobody gets a free ride"), she retains her own special innocence that gains charm through her acquired strength. And for all his gruffness, Decker, too, possesses a youthful tenderness. Like memories of childhood and first romance, the effect of Midge and Decker endures. It is an unusual love story that is profoundly human. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. Most of all you will find Midge and her story completely irresistible.
“Pure, undiluted magic... a sassy comedy which transforms itself into something deeper and resonant. Its author possesses nothing short of a John Cheever brand of heartbreaking merriment.”
“The funniest, most unlikely couple since Harold and Maude. Tenderly heartwarming and wonderfully human.”
“A blend of the funny and the poignant, much in the manner of Larry McMurtry.”
—St. Louis Post Dispatch
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