This excellent first novel by Malcolm Brooks brings to life the American West on the cusp of change. It is the story of a young woman on a journey to tame a wild landscape, the tide of progress in the middle of the 20th century and a beautiful love story.
It's 1956. Working ahead of a major dam project in Montana, Catherine Lemay, a young archaeologist has one summer to find anything of historical value in the soon-to-be flooded canyon. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar—the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then she encounters a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon, who inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than the vanished past.
Reminiscent of the work of Wallace Stegner, Thomas McGuane, and Annie Proulx, PAINTED HORSES sings a love song to the horseman’s vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future often make strange bedfellows.
Malcolm Brooks was raised in the rural foothills of the California Sierras and grew up around Gold Rush and Native American artifacts. A carpenter by trade, he has lived in Montana for most of two decades. His writing has appeared in Gray's Sporting Journal, Outside, Sports Afield, and Montana Quarterly, among others.