The Shepherd of the Hills (1907) by Harold Bell Wright ⭐⭐⭐
It’s a good, complicated and involved story about a well-to-do man who goes to seek peace and solace in the Ozarks in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It’s really a good story, but it gets off to a slow start. One has to get used to the backwoods lingo, as most of the dialogue spoken by the locals is written in a backwoods mountain accent. It’s a little distracting and slow-going reading because of this, not to mention how much is packed into the book.
The writer leans heavily on the thinking that people from the city know nothing about life, and that the stronger a man is, the better catch. At one point, one of the heroes throws an attacker over a wagon and the heroine says “Oh, what a man!” That’ll give you a good idea of what I mean here. I cringed at that line, and, unfortunately, that’s going to be the main thing that sticks with me when I think of this book.
I personally think that some of the chapters could be stand-alone stories. It was a little hard to understand in parts, partly because of the dialogue and sometimes I got confused to whom the female character was talking to. The whole town calls the newcomer Dad, as he fits in perfectly almost from the start, so I sometimes thought she was talking to her real father, who, I kept having to tell myself, she calls Daddy Jim.
It has mystery, love, action, and has even been made into films, one in 1919 by the writer himself, one in 1928, and most famously with John Wayne in 1941, although I read that the 1941 version is a bit different from the book.
When you think the book is going to be over, it isn’t, as they tie loose ends, but I think some of it is a stretch toward the end.
Oh, I read somewhere that, although this is a fictional story, some of the characters were based on real people, and there is a tourist attraction in the ozarks somewhere where they act out part of the play.
I’d recommend this to anyone who might be interested in the way people lived in the Ozarks 100 years ago.
This photo includes my origami sheep bookmark I made for my book. 😀