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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Butch Cassidy Anyone? Let's Let The Girls In On The Fun

Title: Melinda and the Wild WestAuthor: Linda Weaver Clarke
By Linda Weaver Clarke
Genre: historical fiction
ISBN: 1-58982-367-2
Rating: 5 stars

BOOK REVIEW by Melynda Gascoyne for The Amherst Bee Newspaper: Buffalo, New York

For anyone who likes to read classic-styled romance novels that also have a drop of history, this is the book for you: “Melinda and the Wild West, a Family Saga in Bear Lake Valley, Idaho.” The story is set back in 1896 in Montpelier and Paris, Idaho, in the Bear Lake Valley area.

Melinda Gamble is the new schoolteacher and has relocated from Boston to teach in the community where her beloved aunt and uncle live. Being termed “headstrong” by her parents, she decides to take the job offered by her relatives in the western frontier as a way to escape from the city and the life they have forged for her.

This sets about a plan to help others by teaching. From the start, Melinda learns from her new surroundings. Right at the very beginning she comes face to face with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch in a bank robbery. What a way to start your new life in the wild frontier.

From one of her students coming to class with skunk oil that explodes, to her encounter with a black bear, there’s always something for the imagination in the book. The characters grow in their complexity as the story unfolds. From Melinda’s relationship with Jenny, (the daughter of her widowed neighbor), to Gilbert, Jenny’s father and the gentlemen who steals Melinda’s heart, it is very easy to picture the scene you are reading.

Clarke blends bits of her family history into this charming tale in the form of the children at the school to members of the community in general. She was able to write about love in a soft fashion, not full of the same type of sexual writing of most romance novels. I was impressed with the eloquence in which Clarke spun her story. It was dramatic in some spots and yet contained simply placed bits of humor. I would recommend this to anyone.

Melinda is the first in a four-book series, “A Family Saga in the Bear Lake Valley,” written by Clarke. I’m hoping that the other stories are just as interesting as this one. At the end of the book, Clarke has a section of notes in which she explains parts of the story and from where in her family they derive. Age range: 16 and older.

Learn more about Melinda and the Wild West:
She is also the author of Edith and the Mysterious Stranger,

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