Posts Tagged ‘American old west’

Riders of the Purple Sage

September 30, 2009

Title: Riders of the Purple Sage

Author: Zane Grey

Publication Date: 1912

Number of Pages: 265

Genre: Western

Geographical Setting: South Utah

Time Period: 1871

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Jane Withersteen is a single wealthy Mormon woman living in the canyon country of southern Utah in 1871 managing the ranch and surrounding property, which includes valuable spring water, she has inherited from her late father. When Jane refuses to succumb to pressure and marry Tull, a church elder who practices polygamy, she comes under attack from the Mormon community. As punishment for her refusal to submit to the directives of the Church elders, Jane faces ever increasing persecution from her fellow Mormon brethren. Bern Venters, a Gentile rider whom Jane has befriended, is captured and about to be whipped because of her association with him when an infamous gunman and Mormon killer named Lassiter arrives and prevents the punishment. Lassiter who is searching for information about the mysterious death of his sister and the fate of her young daughter finds himself drawn to Jane and Fay, the Gentile child she has adopted, and decides to stay at Withersteen Ranch to help her defend it while Venters heads into the canyons to follow the trail of a gang of cattle rustlers and a masked rider who rides with them. Jane, grateful for Lassiter’s help, sees this as an opportunity to persuade Lassiter to turn away from his life of violence.  As Jane struggles to hold on to Fay and her property in the face of evil, secrecy, and escalating pressure, she finds herself questioning her Mormon faith and the beliefs she has always lived by.

Subject Headings: Texas Rangers; Outlaws — Texas; Women Ranchers; Gunfighters; Western Stories.

Appeal: deliberate, measured, compelling, introspective, reflective characters, inner struggle, strong women, heroic loners, complex storyline, multiple plot lines, action-oriented at times, resolution, redemption, American old west,  detailed settings of mountains and canyons in Utah, evocative descriptions of landscape, bittersweet, contemplative, darker, lyrical, cowboy jargon

Three terms that best describe this book: evocative descriptions of landscape, inner struggles, classic western

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Searchers by Alan Le May – Classic western about a Texas Ranger who searches for years for his niece taken prisoner by Comanche raiders. (American old west, searching for missing family members, inner struggles, resolution).

The Warriors Path by Louis L’ Amour – Two brothers in search of a sister-in-law who has been kidnapped travel from colonial America to Jamaica to find her and her kidnappers. White men, hoping to exploit tensions between settlers and the Indians are behind the kidnappings. (Searching for missing family members, action-oriented, villains using others as scapegoats- Mormons used cattle rustlers in Grey novel).

Trail to Cottonwood Falls:  A Ralph Compton Novel by Dusty Richards – Former ranger and cattle driver trying to redeem himself must contend with enemies as he drives a woman rancher’s cattle west. (Strong man fighting against determined enemies, woman ranchers, gunfighters, cattle drives).

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women by Dorothy Allred Solomon – History of Mormon women in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.

Painters of Utah’s Canyons and Deserts by Donna Poulton – Collection of 300 paintings and artists’ anecdotes that portray the visual beauty and majesty of Utah’s geography as well as the dangers of the Utah frontier.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer – Two brothers believing they are acting under direct orders from God murder two family members. The story explores the beliefs and hidden world of Mormon fundamentalism.

Name: Maggie


March 11, 2009

Author: Jack Schaefer

Title: Shane

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1949

Number of Pages: 151

Geographical Setting: Wyoming

Time Period: 1889

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Told from the viewpoint of Bob Starrett, a young boy growing up on a farm in Wyoming, this is the story of Bob’s father, Joe Starrett, a proud hard-working farmer, who struggles to provide a good life for Bob and his mother, Marian. Its hard work and Joe knows that it isn’t going to be easy, especially when Luke Fletcher, a greedy, land grabbing antagonist, continues to intimidate Joe and all the rest of the farmers.

There is a lot of excitement for Joe and his family when Shane, a mysterious stranger, suddenly rides into town and accepts an invitation to stay and work the Starrett’s land with them. Joe and the family are happy that this peaceful man has come to join them and Shane is happy in his new life. Yet, Fletcher doesn’t think much of the stranger and sends a few of his hired guns to scare this peaceful man off. Shane makes quick work of these cowboys and it is revealed that the mysterious stranger looking for peace is in fact a slick gunfighter with a killer instinct and a bloodlust for fighting. Now the conflict of good and evil, between Shane and Fletcher, and within Shane himself, are on a collision course and in the end, only one can remain.

Subject Headings: Frontier and pioneer life — Wyoming — Fiction, Conduct of life — Fiction, Vendetta — Fiction, Wyoming — Fiction, West (US) — Fiction.

Appeal: easy, engrossing, steady, unhurried, compelling, inspiring, introspective, sympathetic, gunslingers, well-drawn, first person point of view, cowboys, ranchers, character-centered, thought-provoking, small-town, rural, American old west, redemption, inner struggle, life lessons, young narrator

Similar Authors and Works:

Non-Fiction Works:

Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank – Told from a young girl’s perspective, this is the introspective, thought-provoking, and inspiring story of girl who must deal with the evils of the world while at the same time considering how she fits into it.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edmund MorrisThe biography of Theodore Roosevelt, a controversial, powerful man who grew from a sickly child into, among other things, a rancher, a policeman, a cavalryman, and a U.S. president. A heroic tale of a larger than life character who both inspires us and captures our imagination.

The Cowboy: An Unconventional History of Civilization on the Old-Time Cattle Range, by Philip Ashton Roston – An encyclopedia-like collection of tales and customs of the old west. Topics in the book include how life was like as a cattle rancher, how the importance of a man’s character contributed to life in the old west, and the fraternity-like code of the cowboys.

Fiction Works:

Where the Long Grass Blows, by Louis L’Amour – An easy tale about Bill Canavan, a cowboy from the old West who just wants to settle his land and be with the woman he loves. But when the other ranchers around him begin a war, Bill Canavan realizes that he’ll have to fight back to keep the things that he’s worked so hard to obtain, his pride, his land and his love.

Walk Proud, Stand Tall, by Johnny D Boggs – Ex-lawman, Lin Garrett has hung up his badge and retired to a life of peace and quiet. But when an old nemesis pulls off a daring train robbery, Garrett must return to have one final showdown with the outlaw in this action-oriented story from the American West.

The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter Van Tilburg Clark – This thought-provoking novel begins with three innocent men who are lynched by an angry mob after being wrongfully accused of stealing another man’s cattle. When the mob realizes that their actions were unjust, they must deal with their conscience and peer into their own humanity.

Name: Mike