Today I welcome Virtual Book Tours back to The Book Binder’s Daughter with a collection of short stories.
The theme of this collection is life on a ranch in the mid twentieth century. I found all of the stories in the collection interesting and I will highlight three of my favorites.
In “Ramona Dietz,” Roy is in need of a new ranch hand and a cook, so his father hires an older man named Cal Dietz and his much younger wife Ramona. Roy does not like the way Cal Dietz speaks to his wife and when Ramona starts having “accidents” and getting hurt, he suspects that Cal is abusing his wife.
Roy mentions the situation to his father, his wife and even his in-laws, but no one around him sees concerned or wants to get involved in other people’s private affairs. The descriptions of life on the farm, the harsh winter, and the Dietz’s problems were vivid and engaging which is not an easy task to accomplish with short stories.
“His Mild Yoke” describes the ephemeral nature of life on a ranch through the eyes of a little girl. Her life seems happy as she lives with her mom and dad on the farm. But things never seem to last when the family pet, her pony and even the nice ranch hands disappear from her life.
My favorite story in the collection is “The Widow Smalls” in which a woman named Leah is left completely alone on her ranch when her husband, Bud, dies unexpectedly. Leah had never helped out on the ranch before, but when faced with the choice of either losing her ranch or working on it herself, she rolls her sleeves up and digs in. Leah’s brothers-in-law, who are portrayed as despicable and opportunistic characters, offer her a price for the ranch that is half of what it’s worth. She knows that they want to see her fail and then scoop up the ranch cheaply for their own personal gain.
When Leah hires a Mexican named Julian to help her run the ranch, the racist neighbors start to whisper about a relationship between her and Julian. What I liked most about Leah is the fact that she never makes a decision to please other people. She wants to keep her home and her ranch and she likes having Julian around. She dismisses the town gossips and forges her own life, one that makes her happy and proud of her own accomplishments.
THE WIDOW SMALLS is an outstanding collection of stories that gives the reader a deeper understanding and appreciation of life on a ranch from many different perspectives.
About The Author:
Jamie Lisa Forbes was raised on a ranch on the Little Laramie River thirty miles west of Laramie, Wyoming. Like many Wyoming children of her generation, she attended a one-room schoolhouse during her early school years.
She received a degree in Philosophy and English from the University of Colorado in 1977. She spent the next year and a half of her life in Israel, where she met her husband.
In January 1979, Ms. Forbes and her husband returned to the Little Laramie Valley where, for fifteen years, they ran the family ranch and raised two children. The Forbes family ranch was sold in 1993 and Ms. Forbes then moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. She began writing her first novel, Unbroken, while in law school. In 2011, Unbroken won the WILLA Literary Award for best outstanding fiction about women in the West.
Today, Ms. Forbes is a practicing attorney. She is completing a short story collection and she has a novel in progress. She is the proud grandmother of four grandsons and true to her native country, still owns a horse, Cody and a cattle dog, Reb.
Please click on the tour banner below to see the full lists of stops on the tour.
9 responses to “Review: The Widow Smalls and Other Stories by Jamie Lisa Forbes”
Loved this collection too. Absolutely fabulous! Great review, as always.
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Thanks for taking part in the tour. I’m glad you enjoyed ‘The Widow Smalls’ so much! I loved it as well!
I loved the book. Thanks for another great tour, Teddy!
I enjoy historical fiction and this looks like a great book. Thank you for the review. I am in the middle of a really good book called, “Inventing Madness,” by author J.G. Schwartz. http://www.inventingmadness.com/ Inventing Madness is the story of total devotion of a mother for her deeply disturbed son.
Thanks for the recommendation.
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You are welcome! I know you will like it as much as I do.
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I particularly admire the author’s ability to turn a phrase. Her award-winning novel “Unbroken” is a favorite of mine. I’m honored to have an autographed copy of this book of stories.