Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks
In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.
Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her—a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.” Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar—the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then there’s John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. Painted Horses sends a dauntless young woman on a heroic quest, sings a love song to the horseman’s vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future, often make strange bedfellows. It establishes Malcolm Brooks as an extraordinary new talent. (Amazon)
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this story of the 1950's set in Montana. Montana at this time was changing - for good or bad - that was the question. This was a time roles for men and women were changing, the old Indian ways were changing, and life on the land for the cowboys was changing. Cate, John H., Miriam, Jack Allen, and Max Caldwell, main characters in the story, all will have to face challenges to the way of life as they know it. We see the Native American having to make the choice between retaining their culture or moving in to the modern world, we see women making choices that several years early were not allowed in society, and conflict between the cowboy and the modern world. Everyone is faced with choices that only they can make - will they make the right choice?
I enjoyed the book, the writing was very good and it made you feel like you were traveling to Montana and seeing the beautiful sites along with the characters.