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 f...moreWhen 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.(less)