A Distant Trumpet Aug 7, 2008
I shuffled this book to the bottom of the pile twice before I caved in and read it. It is touted, currently, as a Western, and on the cover of the older editions, it is said to be a love story. Turns out what it is, is a book that I plan to add to my keeper shelf, that shelf of books that ought to get 6 stars minimum, once I get a copy that stays in one piece. The glue on the spine of the 1962 paperback from Crest/Fawcett seems determined to dry out and let go of the pages.
When Abraham Lincoln rolls through town, Matthew Hazard is one very, very determined boy: he’s going to meet Lincoln! He does, of course, and their meeting sets Matthew’s life on a path to the Arizona Territory, via West Point. Hazard’s determination is one of his greatest characteristics. It brings him everything he has in his life, including his wife Laura, whose mother was none too keen on her daughter marrying a man who would drag her to the end of civilization and beyond. Their life is full of the sort of adventure that makes up the best and bravest, and the worst and saddest, in our history.
The first surprise for me was that this really is a love story. And the second was that it isn’t. There are several stories of couples here, and most of them are love stories, but they’re more than that. Who the characters are in their relationships – romantic and otherwise – defines who they are when the chips are down, and the chips are down often out west at that time. Many, many books weave sub-stories in and out, some successfully, some predictably. A Distant Trumpet is far more successful than others. What a wonderful surprise this book turned out to be!