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Where Coyotes Howl
BY SANDRA DALLAS
RELEASED APRIL 18, 2023
A beautifully rendered love letter to the early 20th century West from a master storyteller.
1916. The two-street town of Wallace is not exactly what Ellen Webster had in mind when she accepted a teaching position in Wyoming, but within a year’s time she’s fallen in love—both with the High Plains and with a handsome cowboy named Charlie Bacon.
Life is not easy in the flat, brown corner of the state where winter blizzards are unforgiving and the summer heat relentless. But Ellen and Charlie face it all together, their relationship growing stronger with each shared success, and each deeply felt tragedy. Ellen finds purpose in her work as a rancher’s wife and in her bonds with other women settled on the prairie. Not all of them are so lucky as to have loving husbands, not all came to Wallace willingly, and not all of them can survive the cruel seasons. But they look out for each other, share their secrets, and help one another in times of need. And the needs are great and constant. The only city to speak of, Cheyenne, is miles away, making it akin to the Wild West in rural Wallace. In the end, it is not the trials Ellen and Charlie face together that make them remarkable, but their love for one another that endures through it all.
Some 40 years ago, I reviewed the autobiography of a cowboy. He rode the range, got married, and went to ranching. What struck me was how ordinary the man’s life was. I gave away the book, but I never forgot the story. So several years ago, I wondered if that book might make a novel. I contacted book dealers, hoping to find a copy. The problem was I couldn’t remember the title of the book or the name of the author. I didn’t remember if he’d lived in Wyoming or Montana. I never found the book, and finally, I gave up and wrote my own story. As usually happens, characters took over, and the book wasn’t the story of a cowboy at all but of a cowboy and his wife, a love story set against the background of the brutal Wyoming land.