A Cowboy Christmas: An American Tale
In Van Dyke's solid but slightly bland western, the year is 1908 and a man named WB repeats a Christmas tradition, sharing with his wife how he became a cowboy in 1873. After stowing away on a ship from Europe, WB reached America and headed west with little more than a horse and a gun to seek his fortune. He soon met and fell for Ginny--a fact that raises questions about the book's narrative device: every year WB tells Ginny the same story, much of which she witnessed for herself? And while Van Dyke ably captures the time and spirit of a bygone era, his prose is less than memorable. WB's familiar coming-of-age story--encountering Native Americans, developing a name for himself as a wrangler--won't be confused with classic westerns, but fans of the genre will likely be entertained.