Set primarily in the lonesome southwest desert lands of the 1920s, this novella is a powerful story in which landscape reflects and defines character. In this beautifully written tale, a promising young politician, Grant Arliss, flees from this pressure-ridden life in New York City to the serenity of the desert's open spaces. There, he finds not only a place to sort out his confusion but also a remarkable woman, unlike any he has met. In his eyes, Dulcie Adelaid is an aloof creature of the desert who relies only on herself. Challenged and yet inhibited by the desert's unrelenting force, Arliss admires Dulcie's instinctive ability to thrive in the harsh country. She also provides a spiritual sustenance that he has never found with any other woman. Together they engage in lively conversations about his political convictions and her beliefs and values. Inspired, Arliss returns to New York where he delivers eloquent speeches to an overwhelmingly supportive constituency.Placing Cactus Thorn in biographical, feminist, and literary perspective, Melody Graulich's commentary discusses how Austin's themes are timeless in setting and moral tone. Foreword and afterword by Melody Graulich.
Mary Austin (1868-1934) wrote more than 30 books during her career, including Land of Little Rain (1903) and Lost Borders (1909). Born in Carlinsville, Illinois, Mary Austin eventually ventured west with her brother and widowed mother to homestead in California. Throughout her essays, poems, plays, and stories, she focused on environmental issues and the relationship between individual experience and cultural histories.