I never really gave western fiction a chance, except on the big and small screens. Even there, with the exception of The Man From Snowy River and 3:10 to Yuma, I had observed that it tended to be too formulaic for my taste. Big, tough cowboy meets a sweet, but strong pioneer type girl and falls in love, then has to fight off some big, bad hombre to save her and the town…you get the picture.
But Marsha Ward has opened my eyes to the historical nature of the Western. If I hadn’t gotten an iPhone and been able to download her first novel, The Man From Shenandoah, for next to nothing, I might never have been tempted (except for the fact that I had already bought a paperback copy of her most recent volume in the Owen Family Saga, Trail of Storms…more as a sign of respect for her writing ability than an indication of my true interest). But now I’m hooked.
They spoke differently back then, and I don’t know if Marsha time travels in her sleep, but she sure has a feel for their language and ways. That must come from either a past life or significant reading and research. Since I don’t believe in reincarnation, I’ll assume it’s the latter and take my hat off to her (figuratively speaking).
In any case, once you’re three or four pages into her book, you can’t help but feel you’ve been transported 150+ years back in time to a day when America was still being discovered and tamed…and when gentlemen and ladies had very defined roles and ways of behaving around each other. It was also a time when marriages were often arranged; practicality and a man’s word held sway over such feelings as romance and love.
She captures all of that and more in this saga of a Virginia family nearly wiped out by the Union soldiers and struggling to find and make a new life for themselves in the Colorado territory after the Civil War.
I encourage you to watch her new book trailer for The Man From Shenandoah and then check out her website and blog for more information on all her books. As for me, I need to quickly order her sequel, Ride to Raton, so that I have time to read it before tackling Trail of Storms.