Sunday, November 3, 2013

"The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories" by Elisabeth Grace Foley

I picked up this book because I read the author's blog.  But she doesn't know I bought her book, or that I'm reviewing it.  Or at least, she won't know that until I post this :-)

I just finished the first draft of my first YA western last week, and this book helped me cross the finish line.  I have to admit there are not a lot of westerns published these days, not like there were 70 years ago.  But there are a few, and having this book on my shelf gives me hope that, one day, I'll get mine published too.  

Anyway, this is a collection of seven short stories set in the American West.  Or the Old West.  Whatever you want to call it -- these are western stories about cowboys, okay?  And they are well-written and enjoyable.  I liked some better than others, of course.  My favorite was definitely "The Outlaw's Wife," which had two nice plot twists, one of which I did not see coming at all.  I also really liked "Disturbing the Peace" and "Delayed Deposit."  

"The Outlaw's Wife" is about a pregnant woman who moves to a new town, where everyone knows from her last name that she must be married to a notorious outlaw.  The town doctor and a kindly cowboy are the only people who make any attempt to befriend her.  But not everyone in this story is who they're pretending to be.

"Disturbing the Peace" is about a lonely sheriff who doesn't know he's lonely until a wounded cowpoke convalesces in his jail, and the townsfolk who never had much to do with the sheriff come to visit the cowpoke all the time.

"Delayed Deposit" involves a bank robbery and is probably the most exciting story in the whole book.  Two brothers and the town busybody set out to defeat the bank robbers, with funny and satisfying results.

I bought the paperback, but you can also get a Kindle version, and if you like clean, well-written short stories (and especially if you like westerns), I definitely recommend you get a copy. 

Particularly Good Bits:

"I'll be back shortly," he said.  "Mrs. Ballard's having a baby tonight.  When Cal came and told us Donny had been shot she told me to go along and tend to him.  She said she's had five little ones already and I'm just a formality by now" ("Disturbing the Peace," p. 26).

From the crown rose an ostrich feather that seemed to wave and gesticulate with sentiments of its own whenever her head moved ("Delayed Deposit," p. 127).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some western violence.


  1. I came upon your blog in my search for images of men in cloaks. Writing now to say you've prompted me to re-read The Lord of the Rings! I am a self published author and write novels with magical elements but wanted to encourage you in writing Westerns. For some time now I have felt they will come back...just a thought. Even thought of doing it myself. I was a cowgirl for my first Halloween when I was about 4! Remember the outfit completely! Thanks for your site! I've subscribed so while tight for time look forward to more. I like the way you quoted from TLOTR. And I've never seen the movie bec so attached to the book although its been years since I read it. Boromir has convinced me! Will definitely begin watching it soon! Thanks again! Jacqueline Stigman​

    1. Welcome, Jacqueline! Men in cloaks, huh? My, I do love a man in a good cloak. But cowboys are my dearest love -- I feel so very comfortable in the western world when I'm writing. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Oh, and Sean Bean is brilliant as Boromir in the movies. Hope you like them when you see them :-) Thanks for stopping by!


What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)