Some Great Reads

As the snow falls outside my window and the clouds lower their grey blanket upon my world, a hot drink, a sparkling fire, a soft throw and a great book take on an almost ethereal appeal. Furthermore, with the approaching holiday season, one begins to think about gifts. So. . .if you're looking for a great gift for your book-loving family and friends (especially if they have a love for the old west) or if you're just looking for a really good read, I encourage you to consider this series.

In the past I have focused on books which feature Yellowstone or SW Montana. However, the wildness depicted in these books is not unfamiliar to one living in the Greater Yellowstone Eco-System. Furthermore, Richmond Hobson Jr.'s books mesh the 'wildness' of Yellowstone country with the challenge of the Montana range cattleman.

I found these amazing stories in a small bookstore in Ennis, MT. Since switching to a Kindle, I rarely hold a 'real' book. However, a friend's rave reviews prodded me to make this exception. I am so glad I did!

Richmond Hobson Jr. was someone I would have liked to meet. He was just enough crazy to be a great cowboy, just daring enough to be a great visionary, and just foolish enough to put the two together. In addition he possessed the rare talent of a born story teller. Thus one can easily understand why his books garnered such interest when they were first published years ago.

His first book, "Grass Beyond The Mountains" is perhaps his best. It relates the fantastic and barely believable story of the 'development' of the largest inland cattle empire in North America. As you might imagine, the challenges of establishing a toe-hold (foothold would be far too optimistic) in such are far-flung and wild country were frequently death-defying! Hobson does a wonderful job of bringing this wild world to life in your cozy reading nook.

While the title of the second book, "Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy", earned the prestige of movie title, it was my 'least' favorite of the three. However, this series was so good, least favorite was still well worth the read.

"The Rancher Takes A Wife" takes off where the second leaves off. It returns to the high story-telling quality of the first book. My favorite part in this book is the chapter written by Hobson's new city born-and-bred wife. Here she records her first impressions as she is introduced into a world far from her own.

While I would recommend them to anyone with an interest in a rancher's life, in wild country, or in an exciting read, to enjoy these books to the fullest, it helps to have at least a rudimentary understanding of cattle, horses, grizzly bears, moose and wolves (or at least the horses and cows). These unlikely partners often play opposing roles in the story.

It is perhaps more amazing to realize Hobson, himself, was the Stanford-educated son of a New York congressman. His partnership with Panhandle Phillips, a life-long cowboy, adds the literary frosting to an already solid story cake.

Together these unlikely partners throw their heart and soul into developing a huge cattle ranch in the wild and untamed vast miles between Vancouver and the Yukon. In spite of the unreasonable odds, their story holds more success than failure.

I found Hobson and Phillips' heart in the face of unbelievable odds extremely encouraging. No, the story is not silver-lined. Neither is real life. But reading of others who have struggled and prevailed always encourages me to press on through the hard times. A great read and an encouraging one! What more can one ask of a book?

Lady of the Lake

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