Texas entrepreneur and politician Lynda Arnold, known this side of the Pecos as “Texas Lil” – a branding nickname she bestowed upon herself – writes an eventful memoir about her life and times as owner of Texas Lil’s Dude Ranch, located in Northlake, Texas, north of Fort Worth.
Arnold’s narrative begins on Nov. 4, 2001 as she looks upon the smoldering ashes of three buildings on her foreclosed dude ranch. She then flashes back to her childhood, where her memories are Leave It to Beaver perfect — in stark contrast to her tumultuous adult life.
Arnold always loved the Old West theme, and Texas in particular. She writes that she was a cowgirl from the get go. Growing up around Hollywood movie lots, where her father worked as a bit player in Western movies, punctuated the point.
Eventually, Arnold marries an abusive husband and suddenly loses two brothers – one in car accident and another in a high-profile murder. After her divorce, she purchases a 194-acre fixer-upper ranch she’s been eyeing for years. With the aid of people she’s helped back on their feet in the past, Arnold builds Texas Lil’s Dude Ranch, a successful recreational destination for tourist and corporate parties.
Trails, Trials, and Tears is chock-full of enough colorful characters and anecdotes to fill several books. These asides could have been streamlined, so that the memoir would be more direct and linear, leading into the compelling third act that gives readers a fascinating look inside the “good old boy” Texas justice system. It takes its time getting there.
Arnold’s memoir comes full-circle to the night of the fire and the tragic impact the event had on her life – both legally and emotionally. Through it all, dealing with shady lawyers, judges and police, Arnold manages to keep an optimistic view of life. Despite its overstuffed feel, her memoir will resonate with those who are driven to realize their dreams and who enjoy heartfelt stories.
Also available as an ebook.