Book Review: The Widow Smalls & Other Stories by Jamie Lisa Forbes

11-16-2014 6-01-19 PMTitle: The Widow Smalls & Other Stories

Author: Jamie Lisa Forbes

Publisher: Pronghorn Press (October 20, 2014)

Category: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Available in: Print & ebook, 231 Pages

Thirty years of browbeating from rancher Bud Smalls has penned his wife, Leah, into emotional isolation.  Now Bud is gone and Leah owns the ranch, but there is no help forthcoming from Bud’s brothers who want to force her out and take the ranch for themselves.  When their attempt to humiliate her instead becomes her opportunity to succeed, Leah begins to find her way back to herself and learns how much she can gain by opening her heart.

The Widow Smalls is just one of the stories in this collection by the WILLA Award winning author of Unbroken, Jamie Lisa Forbes, who writes about the hardships of making a living from the land with an understanding that comes from first-hand experience. 

Her deftly drawn characters include star-crossed lovers, a young rancher facing his first test of moral courage, an inscrutable ranch hand claiming an impressive relative, a father making one last grasp for his daughter’s love and a child’s struggle to make sense of the world around her.   Each will pull you into the middle of their stories and keep you turning the pages.


I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This series of short stories are all about people live on ranches. They all depict the hard work that is required on a ranch. Other than that, all of the stories are completely different.

Some of the stories are a little dark: in Ramona Dietz all of the characters lead sad lives, although Ramona Dietz has it worse than most; Her Mild Yoke is narrated by a young girl who experiences some things that would devastate a girl, like losing her pony, but she just observes what is going on with no emotion; and then there’s Crack the Whip which is narrated by a jerk of a father. By the end of the story, he gets an inkling that maybe he wasn’t the best father, but overall he is clueless and has caused his children to hate him.

The other stories aren’t so dark but are interesting and the characters are all unique. Lincoln’s Nephew shows up on a ranch and breaks the monotony of ranch life for a while. The Good War is about a family that loses their ranch but keep on going, working a ranch for someone else. The one thing that breaks them apart is the war since both of their children are in their late teens. The Widow Smalls was my favorite. The widow has to learn to move on after her husband of 30 years dies. I liked how she stood up to her brothers-in-law and how she ultimately moved on in her own way.

This is a good book to read if you enjoy short stories. Jamie Lisa Forbes has a nice writing style.


About Jamie Lisa Forbes:

11-16-2014 6-00-09 PMJamie Lisa Forbes was raised on a family ranch in southeastern Wyoming.  She graduated from the University of Colorado with honors in 1977 and then lived in Israel until 1979, when she returned to her family’s ranch and raised her own family over the next fifteen years.  Today, she writes and practices law in Greensboro, North Carolina.  She enjoys spending time with her grandsons and playing old time Appalachian fiddle.  With her Arabian horse, Cody, and her cattle dog, Reb, she still devotes part of her life to the outdoors.

Buy Widow Smalls:

Barnes and Noble
Book Depository


11-16-2014 6-00-50 PM

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Widow Smalls & Other Stories by Jamie Lisa Forbes

  1. teddyrose1 November 17, 2014 / 2:21 pm

    Thanks for taking part in the tour. I’m so glad you enjoyed ‘The Widow Smalls’!


    • sleepygirl2 November 17, 2014 / 3:01 pm

      I don’t usually care too much for short stories but these were different enough to keep it interesting 🙂


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