Wagons West to Montana is part Western, part romance, and also a story about faith in times of hardship. While the prose has some flaws, the novel is full of heart and the story behind it is a winner.
When the Larson and Obey families join a wagon train in hopes of a new life out West, they know the trip will be difficult. But it turns out to be more of a trial than they’d imagined, with danger and loss followed quickly by treacherous weather. Through it all, the families stick together and turn to God and newfound friends for comfort while establishing themselves as ranchers.
For some reason — possibly the author used vocal transcription software or simply has a writing style that’s rather fragmented — there are many passages in the book that are hard to read, such as: “Log after log were accumulating near where they were going to built onto the barn.” Readers who can overlook such awkwardness, however, will find an enjoyable story. Details of the journey and provisions used to stock the new family homes feel historically accurate and are vividly drawn. The inevitable bad guys are scary but not terrifying, and the romance is passionate but chaste, making this appropriate for younger readers (assuming that it’s edited).
Author Emma Renner started college at 82, in the same year as her great-grandson, and dove directly into writing and computing with enthusiasm. This is her second novel, which she completed near her 90th birthday. Wagons West has imperfections, but it’s a complex story that, with some polish, could be an enjoyable work of historical fiction.
Also available as an ebook.