Melinda and the Wild West, A family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho by Linda Weaver Clarke
"In 1896 Melinda Gamble a very elegant, very naive young woman from Boston decides to give up her life of monotonous comfort for the turbulent uncertainty of the still untamed Wild West. Driven by her intense desire to make a difference in the world, Melinda takes a job as a schoolteacher in the small town of Paris, Idaho, where she comes face-to-face with a frightening bank robber, a vicious grizzly bear, and an intense blizzard that leaves her clinging to her life. But it is a ruggedly handsome and very mysterious stranger who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared love."
Melinda Gamble is moving out West from Boston to become a schoolteacher in Paris, Idaho. The year is 1896 and as she told her mother " Mama, it's 1896. Women can make choices about their own lives more than ever". (page 3) Melinda will live with her Aunt Martha and Uncle William, her father's sister.
Adventures begin right away as she encounters a band robbery by Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. She meets the father of one of her school children when he finds her wading in the cool stream. Gilbert Roberts is a widower and the father of 8 year old Jenny. He is only interested in his daughter and his cattle ranch.
Being a schoolteacher is a learning experience for Melinda as well as living in the Wild West when she encounters a grizzly bear, a blizzard and a man who frustrates her. " "Are you still here, Miss Gamble?" Gilbert asked, as if wearied by her presence. "Yes. and I'm not leaving until we talk about this further:" Melinda was slightly out of breath as she tried to keep up with Gilbert's fast pace. "Miss Gamble, I'm done talking." "But I'm not. Melinda said with a firm and stubborn tone in her voice." (page 54)
I loved the descriptions of the area and the lake. Melinda taught the school children about why pencils are yellow, who declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, about the history of the area and about the Mormons and the Indians. The reader learns or is reconnected with the readings of Jules Verne and the book, Black Beauty.
I loved the stories of the skunk oil in school, the descriptions of the clothing and food, the hardships our first settlers endured and the children school outings when they drink water from the cliff with their tin cups.
This is a sweet and tender romance between two people from different walks of life, East meets West.
No violence of bad language.
Melinda and the Wild West is dedicated to: The Memory of Gilbert and Sarah Weaver (1835-1909) My great-grandparents: the first pioneers who settled Paris, Idaho.
God is present in many areas of Melinda and the Wild West. Melinda and Gilbert sing Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains'. This was composed by a Mormon pioneer from St. George, Utah. (page 113)
"Far, far away on Judea's plains.
Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains:
Glory to God, Glory to God,
Glory to God in the highest;
Peace on Earth, good-will to men;
Peace on Earth, goodwill to men! (page 114)
I received a signed complimentary copy of Melinda and the Wild West from the author. I give it a 5 star for the history, love story and the families that make the story.
You may find Linda Weaver Clarke at www.lindaweaverclarke.com