Michael Zimmer's love and knowledge of the Old West are evident in his book The Poacher's Daughter. Set in Montana Territory in 1885, Rose Edward's huMichael Zimmer's love and knowledge of the Old West are evident in his book The Poacher's Daughter. Set in Montana Territory in 1885, Rose Edward's husband has been murdered by vigilantes and her cabin has been burned down. Rose had a tough childhood with her alcoholic hunter father and a bunch of brothers, learning to ride and shoot as well as any man. She sees the way of life changing in the West as the Native Americans and buffalo are destroyed. Cattlemen with large tracts of land are running out the people with the small holdings of property.
The destitute woman works with horse thieves and trappers trying to accumulate a nest egg to fund a new start on her property. Meanwhile her friends are shot or hung by gunmen, hired by the rich cattlemen, who take the law into their own hands. How much of a difference can one determined woman make against the powerful landowners of the Yellowstone Valley?
This is an action-packed Western adventure story full of gun battles, written by a man who loves the history of the Old West, and who has participated in reenactments of the period. The author's childhood on a horse ranch gave him the knowledge to write well about Rose's travels on horseback over the trails used by hunters, trappers, and traders in Montana heading into Canada. Some of my favorite parts of the book showed the softer side of Rose with her love for her horse, and her respect for the way of life of the Native Americans. It did seem like Rose led a bit of a charmed life considering how many shootouts she was involved in. Montana in 1885 was a dangerous place, full of physical hardship, but also possessing much natural beauty.
When her mother died, Esther traveled by train from Chicago to her distant cousin's ranch in Century, Oregon. The western frontier state was a shock fWhen her mother died, Esther traveled by train from Chicago to her distant cousin's ranch in Century, Oregon. The western frontier state was a shock for a city girl: "Before her are miles of gray plain roughened with brush, rising into a blurred olive band of vegetation and other bands of smake and slate blue too far away to be consequential...Esther has never imagined a land so fruitless."
At her cousin's urging, she stakes a clain on a piece of property next to his ranch. The land will be hers if she stays there for five years. The spunky Esther quickly learns how to live in her new Oregon home, but things are far from calm in Century. There is competition between the cattlemen and the sheepmen for grazing areas and water for their animals. The railroad is planning on laying rails in the area, and all the small towns are hoping it well run through their centers to carry their cattle to market. When people have disputes, the law is taken into their own hands. Esther's loyalties are divided between her cousin's interests and those of a young shepherd. Will the town survive, or will it destroy itself with its lawlessness?
The author's descriptions transported the reader to a Western town around the turn of the century. This was an absorbing story with an interesting cast of characters. Although everyone was hardworking, many had greed and other fatal flaws that contributed to their downfall....more