“Dwindling resources, bribery, and corruption–issues as current as this morning’s newspaper–mix with optimism in Little Century, Anna Keesey’s briskly romantic, nontraditional western, set in central Oregon circa 1900.  Told from a pioneer woman’s point of view, it’s Willa Cather with a sense of humor.  Eighteen-year-old Esther arrives in the semicivilized town of Century from Chicago after ther mother’s death.  A greenhorn, she allows her distant cousin Pick to lie about her age so hse can homestead a plot of land he tries to control while he spearheads an effort to lure the railroad (and its resulting profits) to town.  Naturally our heroine has a crush on handsome, laconically charismatic Pick; so do we, espeically when he jokes, ‘You don’t hear of many gunfights nowadays.  Nobody’s a good enough shot anymore.’  But when Esther falls head over heels for a s young sheepherder, the novel’s lighthearted tone darkens:  Caught between conflicting loyalties, she undergoes an education in politics and morality as her world erupts in violence.  Keesey portrays her men and women as deeply flawed but so achingly vulnerable that it is impossible not to identify with them.  As a thief turned teacher says about the man she loves, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m tender toward his errors. He is certainly tender toward mine.'”

Liza Nelson, O Magazine

“Keesey writes lyrically and examines the ferocity of frontier life with an unromantic and penetrating gaze.”

“In this novel of stunning beauty, Anna Keesey gives us the American West at the turn of the century, and a cast of unforgettable characters who will risk anything to tame it. Oregon’s hardscrabble frontier comes utterly alive for us, and in prose so lovely, spot-on and accomplished, I found myself dog-earring nearly every page. An incredible debut—and a writer to watch.”

Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“An orphan tries her hand at homesteading in early-1900s Oregon in Anna Keesey’s debut, Little Century (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), learning frontier lessons in cowboy justice (not to mention falling in love with a sheepherder).”

“Keesey debuts with a confidently energetic tale of an 18-year-old orphan who leaves Chicago to eke out a new life for herself in Century, Ore., at the turn of the 20th century. Esther Chambers arrives knowing little about the West, but cousin Ferris “Pick” Pickett—a cattleman and embodiment of the independence and enterprise of the frontier—sets Esther up in a cabin on the shores of Lake Half-a-Mind with plans for her to homestead till the land becomes a part of Pick’s holdings. As Esther acclimates to a life of hard work—which Keesey evokes in economical and striking images—she comes to love the land and its inhabitants, learns to ride a horse, and falls for a sheepherder, the enemy of the cattleman. When factional conflicts erupt in violence, the harsh realities of cowboy justice and life in the West come to light, forcing Esther to choose her loyalties carefully. While Keesey offers a variety of characters with intriguing stories of their own, it is the richly depicted setting—from desert to dry goods store—that showcases her talent.”

“This is a beautiful and completely absorbing book.  In spare, luminous prose, Keesey perfectly conjures the textures, the characters and the urgency of life in Century.  I read it at a gallop and didn’t want it to end.”

Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles

“‘One place understood helps us understand all other places better,’ Eudora Welty once said, and such is the case in this outstanding debut. Anna Keesey renders Little Century’s time and place marvelously, but the novel’s concerns are timeless and universal. With its beautiful language, memorable characters, and compelling story, Little Century is sure to gain a wide and appreciative audience.”

Ron Rash, author of Serena

“Anna Keesey’s debut novel is historical fiction at its finest—precise and particular in detail, character, and setting, yet vast and epic in scope and theme. Little Century is a remarkable achievement.”

Larry Watson, author of Montana, 1948

“The language of Little Century is rich and true and achingly beautiful. Its heroine, Esther Chambers, is the kind found in the best of classic literature: an innocent caught against the backdrop of escalating violence, whose essential goodness and loyalty shines through the savagery around her.”

Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic’s Daughter

“Here is a fine novel, written with grace, about the settling of Oregon and the evening redness in the West. In the desert town of Century, haunted by Indian blood and barren to the core, the cattlemen hate the shepherds and the shepherds hate the cattlemen. But as the community is about to consume itself with greed and vengeance, a young orphan from Chicago shows up with a moral clarity that outstrips her age, to remind us that character matters, and that justice is pursuant to to conscience. Little Century is a frontier saga, a love story, and an epic of many small pleasures.”

Joshua Ferris, author of And Then We Came to the End

“I’ve long admired Anna Keesey’s evocative, emotive short stories and have eagerly awaited her debut novel. Little Century, with its confident sweep and detailed intimacy, does not disappoint. Keesey conjures her western landscape of ranches and homesteads with painterly richness, but it’s her uncanny historical imagination that really takes the breath away. Her characters pulse with life; their times feel as immediate, as urgent and vital, as our own.”

Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl