very so often, I need a mental health book. Sometimes SciFi pulls too much at me. And those recent political histories I’d dabbled into are stone-cold depressing. So I need something, the literary equivalent to eating a bucket of ice cream in my jammies. And for that, there is always Louis L’Amour.
In Conagher, a young couple (married in typical economic desperation) with kids from his former wife rattle west in their wagon to start a new life. He’s built a small house in the middle of absolute nowhere. Once everyone is settled, the husband rides off to purchase cattle so they can begin their rough lonely life (with some sort of economic flow for the household). But while riding up a sharp incline, his horse slips, crashes down on him and crushes his lower body. Horse dies, he dies, nobody knows. He just vanishes.
Left alone, the wife continues to try to raise the kids. Fortunately they are on a stage route so she brings in money with her cooking. But there are Indians and rustlers and all sorts of dangers in this new land.
And into this rides Conagher, an aging saddle bum who has been thinking of settling down (the ground he beds on isn’t getting any softer or warmer). He makes brushing acquaintances with the family, protects them from afar, does what he can. But then we find Conagher’s ranch boss dying of illness, his cattle getting rustled off, and with our good man in pursuit and snow on the way, it’s only a matter of time before we get our thrilling yet happy ending.
I really enjoyed it. If you’ve never read Louis L’Amour, you owe yourself a trip to your local used bookstore to hunt for a cheap one. They are always good and easy reads, great for what ails you.