Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Simon & Schuster
Cowboys & Injuns?
And real cowboys, some of ‘em Native American. Jeannette Walls’ first book, The Glass Castle, was a memoir of growing up dirt-poor, daughter of homeless, wandering eccentrics.
But she made good?
Glamour-puss TV reporter. Glass Castle was a best-seller, and she followed up with this novel about her grandma - a convent girl and tough babe who ended up as a wealthy rancher.
What of these horses?
By the age of six, Lily is helping her crippled father break horses. He’s just out of jail - someone got shot, but it ain’t his fault, despite his ‘Irish temper’ - he’s the son of a Famine refugee.
She became a cowboy?
No siree. First her father’s helper and interpreter - kicked in the head by a horse as a child, he’s unable to talk clearly. Then a schoolmarm, but she keeps gettin’ fired for whalin’ on them young’ns.
Sacked for pulling a pistol on a polygamous Mormon elder after telling the gals about wimmin’s rights, she decides to go to college.
She has to make the money, so she gets a factory job in Chicago, then, when her pal gets pulled into the machinery by her ‘long Irish hair’, as a maid.
Why do I think this will go wrong?
She marries a fast-talkin’ dude, but whoop-de-dee, he’s a bigamous hound dog who’s spent all the savings from their joint bank account. After that she swears off men.
But she’s a grandma!
Keep your shirt on. When she’s half-qualified she gets a teaching job. Her pretty little sister turns up pregnant - but when the priest finds out -
After the tragedy, she marries a big steady guy, deals bootleg from under the baby’s crib, teaches, runs a ranch, and brings up her kids with the strap always at the ready.
You bet your bottom dollar. And that’s only the half of it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll chaw tobaccy.