Russell Rowland is at his best when writing about what people talk about when they talk about nothing - as well as what they don’t talk about when they talk about big somethings. In Open Spaces, his first novel, follows a Montana ranching family from 1916 through the Great Depression, and closes in 1946. It is a homage to big skies, stingy soil and the art of the articulate silence practiced by its human inhabitants (who often take a back seat to its animal inhabitants, as well as to the land itself). ... Rowland, a fourth-generation Montanan, has written a family epic that has a muted elegance. There are some uneven patches - notably an overwrought ending - but for the most part this is a gracefully understated novel.