The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West

Written by Candace Simar Hazel Rumney (ed.) Larry D. Sweazy Sandra Dallas
Review by Janice Derr

Editor Hazel Rumney has compiled sixteen short stories by new and well-known Western authors in The Spoilt Quilt. The theme that ties the book together is that each story’s protagonist is a woman in the American West, and what an unforgettable group of women they are. Life on the frontier isn’t for the faint of heart, and these women have just as much, if not more, grit and gumption than their male counterparts. One standout story is Candace Simar’s “Berserker on the Prairie.” Main character Olava Wick is a Norwegian immigrant living in the Dakotas working as a midwife/unofficial country doctor. Her dry wit and withering insights make her an appealing character who deserves to be in a novel. Another story I didn’t want to end was Marcia Gaye’s “Mail-Order Delivery.” Widowed Lucinda places an ad seeking a husband and father for her three young children. The respondent isn’t all she had hoped for, and neither is her new home in Nevada. Rather than despair, she takes some chances that pay off and creates an opportunity for herself that she couldn’t have previously imagined.

I never thought I would like Western fiction, so I didn’t seek it out. This book caught my attention because of its focus on female characters, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This collection will surely please fans of frontier fiction as well as those who are new to the genre.