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Yes, believe it or not that glorious old movie starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin (did he steal the show or what?) was based on a book. I’d never realized it until a mention of it on a thread at HFO and had to read it for myself. Those too young to remember the movie you have no idea what you are missing and here’s a sampler for your pleasure,

Wolf City, Wyoming.  Kid Shelleen convinces his partner-in-crime Frankie Ballou to go to the Saturday night dance instead of their usual visit to Crib Street and there he meets Cathy Morgan, the prettiest schoolmarm west of the Mississippi.  It’s love at first sight and the two ride away into the night to hitch the knot and Frankie plans to go straight – until he’s caught red-handed with the loot from their latest train robbery and he’s hauled off to jail. Kid and the rest of the *gang* free him and Cathy joins him at Robber’s Roost, their mountain top hideout where their daughter Cat is born. Old Doc, Cathy’s father, gets Frankie a pardon (long story) and eventually they save enough to buy a piece of land in Purple Valley – but it’s a piece of land the Cattlemen’s Association needs to run their herds through – and thus begins a heated battle that ends in tragedy for Cat.

As she stood there by the graveside,

Her burnin’ eyes was dry,

But her heart swore, “I’ll have vengeance,

Tooth for tooth an’ eye for eye!”

Oooooh, I love Nat King Cole.

A determined Cat is set on revenge, but things don’t go as planned and she ends up in dire need of rescuing by the latest gang inhabiting the Robber’s Roost, and most especially their leader, Clay Boone. One look at Clay is enough for Cat to know he’s the man she’s dreamed of and she follows him to the Roost, much to the ire of Clay’s younger brother who desires the beauteous Cat for himself, as does Kid Shelleen who worships her from afar.  Will Randy’s jealousy destroy the relationship between the two brothers? Will his stupidity land them all in hot water?

And that’s about as far as I’m going, you know what I always say – read it for yourself.  This was a quick easy read with healthy doses of despicable cattle barons, bandits with a heart of gold, a gun battle or two and more than one in-the-nick-of-time rescue from jail. The love story between Cat and Clay was very sweet, I really liked how he fell in love with her before he even had a good look at her face.  No surprise, but Cat’s story is very different from that in the movie, as is the character of Kid Shelleen – no drunken buffoon here – just a dear bear of a man with a heart of gold that first loved the mother and then the daughter.  3.5/5 stars and I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good western on occasion.

FTC, yes I’m sure you are terribly concerned about the source for this 1956 novel. Interlibrary loan. Happy now?

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