Librarians of the West: A Quartet

Written by Candace Simar Charlotte Hinger Mark Warren RANDI SAMUELSON-BROWN
Review by Dorothy Schwab

This quartet of novellas is perfect for bibliophiles and those that hanker for the lore of the Old West. Too Much Dancing Going On by Randi S. Brown sweeps readers to Butte, Montana, in 1882, where Eliza Gentry reveals how she becomes a librarian on horseback. Brown’s character development for readers along the trail and the descriptions of the 85-mile journey leave readers applauding Eliza’s successes.

Mark Warren’s The Cowboy, The Librarian, and the Broomsman is the first-person account of how blonde, softspoken librarian Rebecca Spark and illiterate Lyle Hardiman become part of the “sweeper’s” grand plan for romance while searching for the history of Burnt Creek. Warren’s humorous way of sharing stories of legendary proportions, including incantations from a Blackfeet medicine woman and the amazing speed of Lyle’s book learning, give this story the delightful feel of a fractured fairytale.

The Book Mama by Charlotte Hinger introduces readers to America’s Homestead Act of 1862, Lady Jane Woodruff, and her foolish husband, Roy. They have emigrated from England to western Kansas with little knowledge of sheep farming, building, or housekeeping. Hinger’s development of the relationship between Lady Jane, Queen Bess, and the African American children Jane teaches to read in nearby Nicodemus is a redeeming quality that readers will appreciate.

Terrible and Wonderful by Candace Simar is set in the wheat fields of North Dakota in 1902. Precocious fourteen-year-old Pearl challenges wealthy, snooty Charlene Dahl for the job of hired hand/reader for Widow Scrimshaw. Simar’s plot thickens as Pearl lands the job and thus begins a “pep rally for Pearl” to win over the crotchety widow, host a lending library and possibly receive a Carnegie grant of $10,000 for a real library! Think Anne Shirley meets Nellie Olson.