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The Willow Field    by William Kittredge order for
Willow Field
by William Kittredge
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

This cowboy story is a beautiful switch on the usual rags-to-riches tale - this time it is the female and her family who pluck the dusty but hardworking cowpoke from his anonymous destiny. To his credit, Rossie always acknowledges the gift, even while running for governor of Montana.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. William Kittredge has given us a wonderfully descriptive story of what it would be like to live close to nature in Montana, Oregon, Washington and California. From driving a herd of horses through the Rocky Mountains into Calgary to just plain living in the wild, this book has a poetry of its own. Then there is the quirky speech and thought of these people. Rossie, upon receiving a horse as a wedding gift from his father-in-law, says, 'These horses, them and Eliza are my hill to climb. There it is.' A more original take on how people think and relate to each other would be hard to find.

Through Rossie we meet settlers, cowboys, gamblers, landholders and politicians, and we learn how Montana reacted to the various events that shaped America from pre-World War II days clear into 1990. In the end, this is really not so much a novel as a story of a man trying to make sense of his life and be true to his friends and loved ones. The Los Angeles Times calls it 'authentically crude and arrestingly vivid.' That it is, and a wonderful read to boot!

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