The Girls of the Golden West tells the tale of ninety-five-year-old John Quincy Adams the Second (no relation to the famous historic figure), who meets a graduate student named Annie Baxter and agrees to help her write a history of the culture of the South by sharing his experiences through the decades. The redheaded Annie looks just like Liz Denney, one of John Q.’s old lovers, which immediately endears her to him. After welcoming Annie to the small, fictional town of Bodark Springs, he shares hours of stories on Annie’s tape recorder, with little prompting along the way. John Q.’s memories follow histories of love and jealousy, misunderstanding and murder, giving a picture not only of Bodark Springs, but also of Texas. Meanwhile, John Q.’s inner dialogue reveals secrets of his own, including the long months he disappeared in order to protect his family from a deadly threat. Author James Ward Lee easily carries readers through this humorous cultural pilgrimage of the West. While John Q.’s pace of life is slow, his mind is razor sharp and keeps readers on their toes, waiting for his next harmlessly bawdy joke or flare of seriousness. The Girls of the Golden West is ultimately a story of finding love for other people and for one’s homeland. From the first moment John Q. bemoans opening his door for nosy townsfolk, readers come face-to-face with a blend of wisdom and fun that will keep them coming back for more.
JAMES WARD LEE is emeritus professor of English at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Adventures with a Texas Humanist, Texas Country Singers (with Phil Fry), and A Texas Jubilee, as well as over a hundred articles, stories, and reviews. Lee is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters. He currently lives in Fort Worth.