Our American Frontier Novels are adventure books describing life in a wilderness. The wilderness may be the early 1900s in Canada or the Wild West, or it may be the early 1800s in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. Or, they could be set in the 1930s in the Rocky Mountains. To be put on the American Frontier Novels shelf, a book can not be completely set in civilized society, and must describe some aspect of the history of the American frontier.
There must be some element of “roughing it” within the book so that we, the readers, can learn how to snow shoe and survive in a blizzard by building an igloo and digging in with pipe and a good fire, or how to ford a stream in winter. Imagine living in a log cabin in the woods, far from others, with hand hewn log furniture, pictures cut from magazines or calendars used to humbly decorate, stream water for cooking, and a long trek out into the wilderness in the hunt for food.
If you ever wanted to know what to do in a forest fire, or how to build your own log cabin, if you wondered could you fight off those who would take your land, or how to help your neighbor during a small pox epidemic – these are the books to read.
James Oliver Curwood Novels
It was the reading of James Oliver Curwood’s books that inspired me to take up snow-shoeing. In several of his books, the main character is racing through the woods to alert the frontier inhabitants about a small pox epidemic or a forest fire approaching. Curwood writes that the snow shoes went “zip, zip, zip” through the snow.
Intrigued, I bought myself a pair of old-fashioned wooden snow shoes, took them up to the meadows on Mt. Rose (at about 8,000 ft. altitude) and proceeded to snow shoe off for the summit where I could see Lake Tahoe. Well, my snow shoes did not make the “zip, zip, zip” sound as described so I thought that Curwood had overstated the concept. But much to my amazement, after a year of snow shoeing up to that summit, I finally did hear the “zip, zip, zip”. I just needed to be going fast enough and by the second year I was zipping away. ~Marcella Parsons
All of Curwood’s novels express a joy of life and optimism through his main characters. Although many of his stories present very real dangers encountered in settling and traveling across the unpeopled wilderness of early 1900’s America, his characters rise above and conquer with confidence, a woodsman’s skill, and hard work.
While all of Curwood’s novels are considered action-adventure, in most, the main male character falls in love and part of the story is the evolution of the romance. The heroes blunder through romance to their chagrin and dismay, but with a wry sense of humor. The heroines are very feminine while capable of wielding a rifle or pistol at marauding bears, villains, or unwanted suitors. There is something for every reader as the men and woman in these books live life to its fullest!
Harold Bell Wright Novels
Our newest set of frontier books, being published in 2009, are written by Harold Bell Wright. Wright’s novels and characters are a bit more complex than Curwood’s. They manage to combine the cowboy, wild west freedom of thought and feeling that still existed in the early 1900s with a “back East” hierarchical class mentality. In each book Wright will pit these opposing view points against each other and usually transform one or more characters from the “back East” type to the free thinking cowboy mentality over the course of the tale, though often through trials and tribulations suffered to deflate the arrogance and egos developed in the privileged class.
We hope you enjoy our publication of one of Harold Bell Wright’s most cherished stories: The Shepherd of the Hills.