Friday, March 20, 2015

Wanderlust Creek

If I could ever be accused of neglecting a genre, Westerns would be one of them. It's not that I have a dislike towards them--it's just I've never thought about them. But when I got the chance to pick up Elisabeth Grace Foley's Wanderlust Creek during her pre-release sale, I found it surprising just how enjoyable a Western novella could be.

The Book 
From Amazon:
From the author of "The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories" come six more short stories exploring the joys, heartaches and laughter of life against the backdrop of the Old West. In “Single-Handed,” a gunfighter’s courage comes in doubt when he refuses to explain to his friends the real reason he backed down from a fight. The capable proprietress of the busiest eating-house in town handles a day of disasters large and small in the light-hearted “The Rush at Mattie Arnold’s,” while in “Room Service,” a hotel night clerk finds himself in on odd position after he allows an exhausted traveler to stay in a reserved room. And in the title story, the novella-length “Wanderlust Creek,” a young rancher and his wife struggle to hold onto their land and their dreams in the face of adversity from weather, enemies—and even doubts of each other. Approximately 53,000 words.

My Thoughts 
Wanderlust Creek was like going way back to the Roy Rogers films, only without any of the cheesiness, and much more value. I read most of this novella on a Sunday afternoon. The general happiness and subtle sweetness of the stories hooked me in one after another and I couldn't put them down. In fact, this novella made me think of our favorite western book, Letters of a Woman Homesteader, by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.

Single-Handed and A Search for Truth were good, all-around gunslinger cowboy stories. The Rush at Mattie Arnold's made me laugh, especially every time Etta pinned her braids up. The Mustanger's Bride and Room Service surprised me. The characters made choices that left me wondering once or twice (eloping girls and forging hotel books are not generally activities I consider heroic) but I admired Elisabeth's guts for including them without apology or explanation. Wanderlust Creek was the most precious gem of the collection. The villain kept me guessing, and I loved Gloria and Ray's commitment to each other. Gloria made me think of Nannie in A Bride Goes West, (a true story) with her love for the West, even though she grew up a city-type girl. I could tell a lot of love went into that story on Elisabeth's part, and it showed in the good craftsmanship. The various characters portrayed chivalry and honesty and a willingness to work hard to make a heritage for themselves.

What I most appreciated about this collection was the general hope and sweetness. Guys and girls became sweethearts, cowboys found a second chance, and problems were fairly easily resolved. After the long list of complicated and gut-wrenching novels I read regularly, having a book that was true-hearted and clean and good felt like a refreshing drink of water.

This is a novella, so I can't write a long review without giving spoilers or waxing unnecessarily eloquent. I will just leave it short and sweet. It was well worth the investment, and I'll be on the lookout for more of Elisabeth's novellas in future.

You can find Elisabeth over at her blog The Second Sentence, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Wanderlust Creek is on Amazon.

Blessings,
Schuyler

6 comments:

  1. Oh, you've read Letters of a Woman Homesteader and A Bride Goes West too! I read both of those and loved them. (A bit of trivia I found fascinating, since I grew up watching Roy Rogers movies too: Nannie Alderson's nephew was actor Hal Taliaferro, who appeared in a lot of those movies, usually as a villain.)

    It makes me happy that you liked "Wanderlust Creek" best, since it's my own personal favorite too. Thanks so much for the review!

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    1. We listened to the Victoria Botkin readings of those books, and my mom and sister read the Elinore Stewart books as well. They are dearly loved around here! How fascinating to know about Nannie Alderson's nephew. That's so cool. :)

      Oh, yes, Wanderlust Creek would have to be the best story of the collection. :) Though the others weren't far behind in my liking! You are most welcome; it was a pleasure to review.

      ~Schuyler

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  2. Oh, this sounds wonderful! I'm definitely adding it to my TBR.

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    1. You'll really like it! :) Sweet stories and gallant cowboys. What better could you have?

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  3. It looks like a lot of fun. :) Glad you could relax with something less...gut-wrenching. :P <3

    Love,
    Carrie-Grace

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    1. Yeah....don't worry. Have more of those in the works right now. <3 :P
      Love,
      Schuyler

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