Peculiar Magic

Peculiar Magic

by Annabel Johnson, Edgar Johnson, Lynd Ward (Illustrator)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
©1965, Item: 87901
Hardcover, 246 pages
Not in stock

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Cindy was a fugitive, caught in the upheaval of a rowdy Kansas cowtown when the "Ladies Reform Society" decided to turn it into a proper place. Daughter of a dance hall girl, Cindy had only one thought—to follow the express train on which her mother had been shipped west. Not until she scrambled aboard a westbound freight did she begin to realize that she might be heading into dangers that even a tomboy couldn't handle.

Cindy found herself in company with a strange piano player, Durango, who instantly made her suspicious. Why was he interested in "helping" her? As soon as possible she tried to slip away from him, only to have him mysteriously turn up again—hired by the same traveling theatrical troupe where she had taken refuge. The women of the company seemed kind, but Cindy was sure that Durango had entered into some scheme with Brutus, the austere manager of the actors.

As the troupe made its way ever farther back into the wild country of Colorado, touring the rough gold camps, Cindy gradually became deeply involved with the curious crew of thespians, and with the theater itself. But Durango remained an unsolved question. What his presence really signified, how his fate was to affect her own, came with a shock just when Cindy felt most desperate.

A Peculiar Magic is a robust, larger-than-life novel of the old West and the dedicated itinerant theatrical people who gave it another dimension.

About the Authors:

Being a jack-of-all-trades may be frowned upon by some, but in the writing of books it's a great asset. Throughout their variegated lives, Annabel and Edgar Johnson, between them, have worked at over thirty occupations. They say, when describing how it feels riding a cattle car, that it does come in handy to have hopped a few freight trains oneself first.

Edgar left his Montana home in this fashion to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. Although on scholarship there his helter-skelter of extra jobs included lecturing on Oriental art, running elevators and carving marionettes. Later on he was to rise to prominence in the East as a designer and ceramicist.

Annabel's roving spirit led her from St. Louis where she had grown up to Texas, and then New York City where she found work in publishing and a variety of other jobs even wrangling horses for a dude ranch in the Berkshires.

The Johnsons were married in 1949, and they now take an even more acute delight in the lonely vastness of the West. A Peculiar Magic is a result of a long-standing wish, to write a story about the theater especially its early days in the western territories.

In planning their stories on the early mining days of Colorado or Montana, the Johnson's not only dig through old diaries and journals, and steep themselves in the daily newspapers of those times; they also live in a manner not too unlike that of the early settlers, traveling through the back country in a trailer somewhat smaller than a covered wagon, hauled by a pickup truck.

from the dust jacket

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