Beneath the Bending Skies is a novel based upon the life of Mary Sheehan Ronan, originally told in Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, published by the Montana Historical Society. It is a realistic glimpse into life in the old west.
Mary (who goes by Mollie) led an interesting life which included many moves (you will be reminded of the Little House books), along with tragedy, tribulation, and joy. Her mother dies when she is quite young, and through the example of her stepmother, Ma Anne, she learns that women must be “agile” by adapting to changing circumstances and putting their trust and faith in God. She is able to maintain an optimistic attitude, believing that:
“We will have to listen for God’s guidance…. Something will come up. There are always new possibilities.”
This is wise advice for all of us, and a message I needed to hear right now.
By the end of the story, Mollie and her husband have settled at the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley of Western Montana, where Peter is the government agent. The agency becomes known as a welcoming place and attracts many visitors (including the wife of Lt. Col. George Custer). Mollie develops her gift for hospitality and “neighboring” and Peter works for justice for the Indian tribes among whom they live.
VERDICT: 5 STARS. A light but engaging historical read.
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