Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Write-Up: Cowgirl Trail, by Susan Page Davis

Susan Page Davis.  Cowgirl Trail.  Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.  See here for Moody’s page about the book.

Cowgirl Trail, by Susan Page Davis, is part of the Texas Trails series, also known as the Morgan Family Series.  This series focuses on the Morgan family in nineteenth century Texas.  Cowgirl Trail is about Maggie Porter, who is not part of the Morgan family (until she marries into it at the end of the book, that is).  But Alex Bright, a central character in Cowgirl Trail, is part of the Morgan family.  He is the son of Ned Bright and Billie Morgan, whom we meet in Captive Trail, also by Susan Page Davis.

In Cowgirl Trail, Maggie Porter comes back to her father’s ranch, and the workers there are not happy.  Mr. Porter used to keep up the quarters and let his men take some of the stock, but he does not do that anymore, nor does he agree to give them a raise.  When one of Mr. Porter’s men is injured on the job, and Mr. Porter seems to greet that with callous indifference, that is the last straw for these men.  They go on strike.  Unbeknownst to them, however, is the fact that Mr. Porter is dying of cancer, and this, coupled with his medical bills for his late wife, are wiping him out financially.  His daughter Maggie decides to rally some women to take the cattle to market, which is a long journey.  On the way, the women contend with outlaws and bullies.  In addition, some of Mr. Porter’s striking workers try to disrupt the women’s cattle drive, while others among the strikers (including Alex Bright) actually look out for the women.

Cowgirl Trail is a good story about misunderstanding people’s motives and not knowing the full story, one reason being that people may choose not to share the full story, for a variety of reasons.  Cowgirl Trail is similar to Susan Page Davis’ Captive Trail in a couple of respects.  First, both focus on a few plot elements.  Captive Trail was about the attempts to communicate with Billie Morgan, who had been captured by the Comanche, and Cowgirl Trail focused largely on the women’s cattle drive.  Some may prefer stories that focus on more plot elements, but I actually enjoyed Davis’ strategy, for it drew me more into the plot and the characters.  Sometimes, it’s good for readers to slow down a bit and appreciate what is going on, and Davis’ strategy allowed me to do that, without sacrificing suspense.  Second, Captive Trail and Cowgirl Trail did not seem to me to have as much of a religious or devotional element as other books of the Texas Trails series.  Cowgirl Trail had a scene in which Maggie was contemplating a verse from Psalm 119, but I wish that Davis had carried the scene further by addressing how God’s law related to Maggie’s struggles.  Then again, not every quiet time with God is neat and tidy, and perhaps Davis did well to capture that.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.

I would like to thank Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

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