The opening chapter of An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns is a vibrant introduction to Annie Haddon, the Englishwoman of the title. She’s travelling from California to Texas in a stagecoach with her over-bearing aunt and superior cousin who both tell her what not to do. ‘Mustn’t, mustn’t’, Annie mutters to herself. She copes stoically until the bombshell is dropped that the real purpose for their journey across America is to meet Annie’s intended. ‘Henry Chewton Hewell,’ thinks Annie. ‘Even his name sounded like something stuck between his teeth.’ Like all the best first chapters it introduces the key character, makes you care about her and then ends in the most unexpected way. Described as Jane Austen meets Zane Grey, Kearns has created a must-read story populated by a heroine to root for, a hero to swoon over and nasty characters to dislike. That’s where the romance formula ends. Kearns portrays an 1867 Texas full of desert dust, coyotes, unhappy Comanche and Sioux, the arrival of the railroad, arrogant cavalry and rowdy townsfolk; fresh and challenging circumstances for the ‘out of her comfort zone’ heroine. It’s a faraway world so alien from today in its customs and culture but surprisingly close in its emotions. An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is about first impressions – the cast includes a silent native named Grey Eagle, Clarice the owner of a rowdy saloon, a puppy called Dog – challenging mistaken assumptions and long-held beliefs and prejudices.
What a visual film this would make. It made me chuckle out loud. If you need an escape from the stressful real world, try this. It doesn’t matter that you know how it will end, it is a romance after all and we love a happy ending, but it is the how and why that are intriguing and Kearns kept me guessing to the end.
Hilarious, joyful stuff.
BUY THE BOOK
Click the title to read my review of THE 20S GIRL, THE GHOST, AND ALL THAT JAZZ also by June Kearns.
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
AN ENGLISHWOMAN’S GUIDE TO THE COWBOY by @june_kearns #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5m0 via @SandraDanby