Red Sky at Morning: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Red Sky by Richard Bradford is a classic novel about a young boy coming of age during WWII.  Josh’s mother, Ann Arnold, is a southern bell with a long list of ancestors,  his dad, Frank Arnold, was of Danish background,  a prominent ship builder in Mobile, Alabama.  As a small child, the humid summers covered Josh with sores and rashes, significantly.  The kid was miserable and Frank had enough.  He decided the family would spend the summer away from the humid south, somewhere warm and dry.  They headed to the southwest, checking out a long list of places that failed to suit. Ann didn’t want to leave the south at all, thought Josh would grow out of it, that the discomfort of summer was just part of childhood.  Finally they came upon Corazon Sagrado, New Mexico, high in the hills, on the flank of the mountain, with green meadows dotted with sheep.  This is where they would build their summer home.  Ann never resigned herself to leaving the south for summers, she liked living in Mobile, around the people she knew and she was uncomfortable with the Spanish speaking population of New Mexico.  Frank and Josh fit right in, having a grand time. By WWII Josh was a teenager, interested in girls and wild for sailing.  Frank enlisted, was commissioned a Commander, and took his family to New Mexico to wait out the war while he was away. In the local school, Josh makes a friend of the doctors son and a brash teenage girl.  They pal around together having adventures, although his two new friends are not the social class Josh’s mom finds suitable. It is here Josh will be challenged to face adult decisions as his mother fails to bond with her environment, clashes with the staff who cared for them from their first New Mexican summer, and things become more complicated with a visitor from the south.  This lively book is suffused with humor and great characters to enjoy. The title comes from the ancient mariner’s rhyme, red sky at morning, sailors take warning.


— Deon Stonehouse


Red Sky at Morning is a minor marvel: it is a novel of paradox, of identity, of an overwhelming YES to life that embraces with wonder what we are pleased to call the human condition. In short, a work of art.” — Harper Lee

“A sort of Catcher in the Rye out West." —Washington Post Book World

The classic coming-of-age story set during World War II about the enduring spirit of youth and the values in life that count.

In the summer of 1944, Frank Arnold, a wealthy shipbuilder in Mobile, Alabama, receives his volunteer commission in the U.S. Navy and moves his wife, Ann, and seventeen-year-old son, Josh, to the family’s summer home in the village of Corazon Sagrado, high in the New Mexico mountains.  A true daughter of the Confederacy, Ann finds it impossible to cope with the quality of life in the largely Hispanic village  and, in the company of Jimbob Buel—an insufferable, South-proud, professional houseguest— takes to bridge and sherry.  Josh, on the other hand, becomes an integral member of the Sagrado community, forging friendships with his new classmates, with the town’s disreputable resident artist, and with Amadeo and Excilda Montoya, the couple hired by his father to care for their house. 

Josh narrates the story of his fateful year in Sagrado and, with deadpan, irreverent humor, reveals the events and people who influence his progress to maturity. Unhindered by his mother's disdain for these "tacky, dusty little Westerners," Josh comes into his own and into a young man's finely formed understanding of duty, responsibility, and love.

About the Author

Richard Bradford was an American novelist, best known for his 1968 novel Red Sky at Morning, a film version of which was released in 1971. He also wrote a second novel, So Far From Heaven. He died in 2002, in Santa Fe, NM.

Praise For…

“A sort of Catcher in the Rye out West....What makes the book a true delight is the deadpan, irreverent humor with which Josh tells the story... No brief review can do justice to Mr. Bradford’s book.”
Washington Post Book World

“Bradford believes in the human comedy the way DiMaggio believes in baseball, the way Nureyev believes in the dance, the way people, no matter what, believe in laughing when they might just as well be weeping.”
Richard Condon, novelist

“A refreshing book, straightforward, funny, touching and, despite the caricatures and wisecracks and passed-over problems, true.”
New York Times Book Review

Red Sky at Morning is a minor marvel: it is a novel of paradox, of identity, of an overwhelming YES to life that embraces with wonder what we are pleased to call the human condition. In short, a work of art.” 
Harper Lee

“A terribly funny book with some of the richest characters I’ve read about in some years.”
Groucho Marx

“Bradford’s book has bite as well as beauty and graceful wit. . . . To my mind it is precisely what a novel ought to be--an entertainment, a book to read for the plain joy of reading. In short, a delight.”
H. Allen Smith, humorist
Product Details
ISBN: 9780060931902
ISBN-10: 0060931906
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Publication Date: May 5th, 1999
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Perennial Classics