Saturday, November 22, 2014

Writing the History of Women of the West

 Contemporary Women’s Fiction describes Arrowstar’s genre, and while not officially historical fiction the books in the series give readers a sense of the history still apparent in Arizona’s ranching communities today. The Storm Women comes close to being designated historical fiction because the19th Century mining towns mentioned existed at one time, and the newsworthy events tucked in the story line actually occurred.

The actress Nellie Boyd mentioned in The Storm Women actually lived and managed a theatrical company in the Wild West. This companion book to Charade recounts a slice of life in 19th century Arizona territory that includes accurate descriptions of the rigors of stagecoach travel and also a bit of the history of the Civil War as it was fought in the West. I don’t consider this novel historical fiction because the main characters weren’t players in the real history of the West.

Hopefully the characters of Arrowstar come alive for readers, and they feel as if they were experiencing the story right along with them. My favorite books are populated by women who follow their dreams and tackle life with determination and purpose. I think I long to be like them!

I’ve just finished reading the novel Cattle Kate, and I can recommend it with enthusiasm. The review I wrote for the novel on follows. I hope you get a chance to read this amazing story. And I urge you to remember that your reviews are like gold to authors.

Cattle Kate – A Novel

Written by well-known Arizona journalist and author Jana Bommersbach, the novel Cattle Kate turns long-accepted legend, gossip and intentional misrepresentation upside down. Bommersbach’s accurate account of Ella Watson’s life adds a brand new page to the annals of Wyoming’s frontier history.

Bommersbach dug deep and shoveled the deceitful grit and gravel of Wyoming Territory aside to unearth the facts about the life of this determined and much maligned Western woman. Watson never in her lifetime answered to the fabricated name Cattle Kate.  Her life differed wildly from the stories told about her and this piece of historical fiction sets the record straight after 125 years of slanderous gossip.

Beyond reading the very enjoyable unfolding of Watson’s life, the endnotes and bibliography speak volumes about the extensive research the author completed in order to tell the story. This fascinating trek through the homesteading period of Wyoming Territory left this reader with a renewed respect for the women who ventured West on the strength of a government promise of good land to settle and one day own.

Today’s Tidbit: Women’s history aches to be written and shared.

Read On!


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