At the foot of the Continental Divide, rancher Frank Redmond struggles to maintain his land amidst the bleakness of Depression-era Montana. Married but childless, Frank's wondering if the long-term future of the ranch is worth the effort. For that matter, he's considering much the same about his wife Abby.
When a stray dog wanders onto the ranch, Frank's first impulse is to shoot it as vermin. Abby and Clay, Frank's father, insist on adopting the mutt, naming him Stranger.
For Frank, it's both the last straw and a convenient excuse. He parlays his skill as a stone carver into a job at Deer Lodge state prison, fifty miles from home. There he labors over a headstone for the warden's terminally ill wife.
When he finally returns home, he finds Stranger more a member of the family than himself. Frank needs to regain his family's trust and prove himself. To do so, he'll need to emulate the dog he once considered killing.
A pensively introspective but hard-hitting read, Stranger's Dance delves into the challenges and desperation of Montana ranch life in the 1930s and how animals can prove the catalyst for human healing.
Troy Kechely grew up on a ranch west of Helena, Montana, where he developed a strong connection to the land and the animals he tended. That connection is evident in his narrative writing and formed the foundation for his debut novel, Stranger’s Dance.
A nationally known dog behavior expert, he is the author of Management of Aggressive Canines for Law Enforcement, which teaches law enforcement officers how to avoid the use of deadly force against dogs during routine and high-risk encounters. He has written short stories and poems about the bond humans and dogs share for Dog and Kennel Magazine, numerous newsletters, and canine rescue websites.
Kechely currently resides in Bozeman, Montana, with his rescued Rottweiler Carly.
This is a sweet, feel-good read - great for curling up on the couch on a rainy day. The character of Stranger, the dog, is so well-developed I found myself, once again, wishing for a dog of my own! The setting of the book (Montana in the 1930's) is well-crafted, and I enjoyed the descriptions of Frank's work as a stone carving artist. These descriptions were the most vivid - I felt like I could visualize what what happening with pencil and paper, wood and stone. I appreciated the various characters' musings on the nature of God and the role of God in the world. I would have loved to hear more and gone deeper with those thoughts, as well as with Frank's shift in attitude and perspective over the course of the novel. Some of those changes felt a bit rushed and, while I appreciate a novel that is not overly-wordy, I wanted to know more. Overall, though, the book kept my attention all the way to a satisfying end.
This is a great book that pulls you in to the lives of the characters while giving you a taste of what small ranch life was like in the mid 1930s in rural Montana. The tidbits of historical reference sprinkled through out gives the reader perspective of when the events are taking place. Definitely worth reading.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It’s a lovely story of survival during the difficult days in the Great Depression. It’s a story of pain, rejection, hurt, and redemption. My favorite character is Stranger, a large dog who appears and adopts a family living on a ranch in Montana. Stranger is an intelligent, loyal creature who plays a big part in the family’s healing. I laughed out loud at the dog’s occasional observations on life. There is no foul language or sexual scenes. The book was somewhat predictable, but that’s expected in books of this genre. Altogether, I give it 4+ stars.
This book captures what life was like for those early homesteaders. Life was hard but those who stuck with it left a legacy for future generations.
The first few chapters were kind of slow but I kept reading, because It was recommended by friends. The author of this book is from Montana. The story is set in Avon and Deer Lodge, Montana in the 30s. It is always nice to read books set in my home town. Like Kevin Giles book Summer of the Black Chevy. Another book I enjoyed.
Good plot and characters. Liked how the author used each characters point of view. What kept it from a higher rating is the penchant for moving the story ahead weeks and months at a time, rather than staying consistently in the moment.