small mountain books
The history of the West touched at one point
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Against This Ground
Nearly 100 years separate the two women in this Arizona novel, yet their stories fit together like interlocked fingers. Jess, a fictional character, lives through the summer months of 1990 in the cabin and the fire lookout tower on Woody Mountain; and Ella, a real woman who lived in Flagstaff in the late 19th century and the part of her story from 1893 through 1899. Their stories weave back and forth with the barest of transitions, blurring the boundaries of time.
Flagstaff, May 1893
In the ten years she had known Woody, he had been a quiet man, not given to joking. He was a mite clumsy at it. She tried to read his face. Oh, of course, he was doing the best he could to make her forget the fracas back there and the shooting. How noble of him! His spirit was surely stalwart as
Woody Mountain, May 1990
               air, thick with flying thousands of little red ladybug beetles on the open summit. Rushing the fifteen feet between the tower and the cabin, Jess kept her hand moving in front of her face. "One ladybug is cute. Thirty thousand aren't so adorable any more."
Copyright 1994
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 93-087445
ISBN 0-9630364-2-4
290 pages
Soft cover
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Reader Reviews About Against This Ground
Scott Lederman, USFS firefighter   Richard K. Mangum, retired Flagstaff judge inside view of wildfire prevention in the accurate description of the 1990 fire season as we fought it, as a lookout would have heard it...a book to make you reconsider things you take for granted...nature writing on a par with Leopold's Sand County Almanac...a bridge across the gap between centuries in a view of what life meant in the 1890s and what it means today.   Donna Ashworth has performed an act of magic in her excellent new book Against This Ground. She has taken historical facts from many sources and woven them into a recreation of Flagstaff life in the 1890s. Her research is impeccable and exhaustive, but the magic occurs in the way she makes history come alive. She creates a "You Are There" experience of the highest art.
Copyright©2009 Small Mountain Books
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  • CoverAgainst
    Cover photograph courtesy of Sherry Mangum
  • EllaWoodyDuo
    Ella Burford at 17. She would later marry John Woody.
    Photo courtesy of her grandson, Dick Barney
  • Flagstaff02Duo
    Six years after its construction, there was still no clock on the courthouse tower.
    Photo courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society—Pioneer Museum
  • PearlOnStepsDuo
    Ella's daughter, Pearl, wearing fashionable sleeves, sat with her 10th grade class in 1896, her elbow on the knee of the gift to her left.
    Photo courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society, Pioneer Museum
  • ParadeDuo
    John Woody, far right, rode during a Fourth of July parade in the early 1900s that paused at the corner of San Francisco Street and Railroad Avenue.
    Photo courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society—Pioneer Museum
  • LadiesDuo
    Some of Flagstaff's prominent ladies.
    Photo courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society—Pioneer Museum
  • FlagstaffDuo
    In the mid-1890s, Flagstaff was little more than a clearing the forest. The Woody house was just out of the frame at lower left.
    Photo courtesy of the Lowell Observatory
  • EllaGraveDuo
    The monument that marks Ella's grave reads, "Over in the Summer Land."