Cheryl2041I’ve had some surgery, which has cut down on my time at the computer, and so thought I’d bring back my post this week on one of my favorite stories, Shane.  Jack Schaefer’s book, Shane, has been classified in many sub-genres, but to me, it will always remain my favorite western romance.

Romance?  Shane?

This story cannot have a truly happy-ever-after ending for all the principal characters, so it normally wouldn’t make it to my “Top Ten” list for that very reason.  But the story itself is so compelling, so riveting, that there is no choice once you’ve read page one—you are going to finish it.  And it’s not just a story about a very odd love triangle, but also about Shane discovering that he is worthy, and a good person, despite what he’s done in his past.

Shane is the perfect hero—a drifter, a loner, and no one knows why.  He plans to keep it that way.  If only his pesky conscience didn’t get in the way, he might have stopped briefly at the Starrett’s homestead, then moved on.

But from the beginning of the book, we know there is something different about Shane.  The story is told through the eyes of Bob Starrett, the young son of Joe and Marion.  Bob is about ten years old, and his account of the people and action that takes place are colored with the wonderment and naivete of a child who will be well on his way to becoming a young man before the story is over.

SHANE512WAvcxk8L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The book starts with tension, as Bob is watching the stranger, Shane, ride in.  Shane comes to a fork in the road. One way leads down toward Luke Fletcher’s, the cattle baron who is trying to force the homesteaders out of the valley.  The other branch of the fork leads toward the Starretts, the homesteaders who will ultimately force Fletcher’s hand. Shane chooses that path, toward the Starretts, and the die is cast.

He would have looked frail alongside father’s square, solid bulk.  But even I could read the endurance in the lines of that dark figure and the quiet power in his effortless, unthinking adjustment to every movement of the tired horse. 

He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin.  His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat’s brim.  He came closer and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn into a frown of fixed and habitual alertness.  Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, checking off every item in view, missing nothing.  As I noticed this, a sudden chill, and I could not have told why, struck through me there in the warm and open sun.

In a nutshell, Shane drifts into the Wyoming valley, and is befriended by the Starretts.  Once there, he is quickly made aware of the brewing trouble between the homesteaders and the powerful local cattle baron, Luke Fletcher, who is set on running them all out of the valley.  Shane is firmly committed to helping Joe Starrett and the homesteaders who want to stay.  Fletcher’s men get into a fistfight with Shane and Joe in the general store, and Fletcher vows his men will kill the next time Joe or Shane come back into town.

Fletcher hires Stark Wilson, a well-known gunhawk, who kills one of the homesteaders that stands up to him.  Joe Starrett feels it is his duty, since he convinced the others to stay, to go kill Fletcher and Wilson.

Shane knocks Joe out, knowing that, though Joe’s heart is in the right place, he’s no match for a hired gun like Wilson.  There’s only one man who is—Shane himself, and that’s going to set him back on the path he’s so desperately trying to escape.

Shane rides into town and Bob follows him, witnessing the entire battle.  Shane faces Wilson down first, and then Fletcher.  Shane turns to leave and Bob warns him of another man, who Shane also kills.  But Shane doesn’t escape unscathed—Wilson has wounded him in the earlier gunplay.

Shane rides out of town, and though Bob wishes so much that Shane could stay, he understands why he can’t.  No.  Bob does not utter one of the most famous lines in cinema history—“Shane! Come back!” There’s good reason for this.  In the book, Bob’s growth is shown because of what he learns from Shane.  To call him back would negate that growth process.

He describes Shane throughout the book, and in many ways, with a child’s intuition, understands innately that Shane is a good man and will do the right thing, which is proven out time and again. So, he also realizes that there is no place for Shane there in the valley, now that the trouble has been handled.

Shane Movie posterimagesBob witnesses the conversation between his mother and Shane, as well, where so much is said—and not said.  It’s one of the major turning points in the book, though Bob, in his telling of it, doesn’t realize it—but the reader is painfully aware of it.  If Shane really is a good man, he will have no recourse but to leave.

This happens as the novel is drawing to a close, when Marian, Bob’s mother, asks Shane if he’s going after Wilson just for her.  He has knocked her husband out to keep him from going after the gunman.

Shane hesitated for a long, long moment. “No, Marian.” His gaze seemed to widen and encompass us all, mother and the still figure of father huddled on a chair by the window and somehow the room and the house and the whole place.  Then he was looking only at mother and she was all he could see.

“No, Marian.  Could I separate you in my mind and afterwards be a man?” 

Shane was Jack Schaefer’s debut novel, published in 1949.  It was honored in 1985 by the Western Writers of America as the best Western novel ever written—beating out other works such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo.

In 1963, Schaefer wrote Monte Walsh, a book that chronicles the passing of the Old West and the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

Though Schaefer never deliberately wrote for young adults, many of his works have become increasingly popular among younger readers.  Universal themes such as the transformation and changes of growing up, the life lessons learned, and rites of passage from childhood to becoming a young adult in his writing have been responsible for the upswing in popularity with this age group.

Shane movie poster 2imagesThough I consider Shane a romance novel, it’s a very different and memorable love triangle because of the unshakable honor of the three characters. I love the subtlety that Schaefer is such a master of, and the way he has Bob describing the action, seeing everything, but with the eyes of a child. If you haven’t read Shane, I highly recommend it—at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick, easy read, and unforgettable.

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything.  A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.  Remember that.  (Shane to Marian) 

A man is what he is, Bob, and there’s no breaking the mold.  I’ve tried that and I’ve lost.  But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had. (Shane to Bob)

If you’ve never read Shane, I urge you to run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or “buy with one click” for your Kindle. It’s a wonderful tale!

PRPGabriels Law WebI’m offering a DIGITAL COPY of my  western historical romance, GABRIEL’S LAW! All you have to do is leave a comment today with your contact information, and check back this evening after 9:00 p.m. to see if you are my lucky winner! For all of my work, click here:

When Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, he doesn’t suspect a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob. When Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, nobody expects to hear the click of a gun in the hands of an angel bent on justice. Life is full of surprises.

Brandon and Allie reconnect instantly, though it’s been ten years since their last encounter. She’s protected him before. As Brandon recovers at Allie’s ranch, the memories flood back, and his heart is lost to her. He also knows staying with her will ruin everything. She’s made a life for herself and her son. She’s respectable. She has plans – plans that don’t include him. But could they?

Trouble is never far away, and someone else wants Allison Taylor and her ranch. Danger looms large when a fire is set and a friend is abducted. Allie and Brandon discover they are battling someone they never suspected; someone who will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who stands in his way.

As Brandon faces down the man who threatens to steal everything from him, he realizes he is desperately in love with Allie and this new life they are making for themselves. Has Brandon finally found everything he’s ever wanted only to lose it all? Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
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51 thoughts on “SHANE–BY CHERYL PIERSON”

  1. This is still a great blog, Cheryl. I confess I’ve never read the book, though I love the movie and have seen it several times. That “Come back, Shane…” ending in the movie is so haunting, it’s surprising it isn’t in the original story. The boy in the movie reminds me so much of my son at that age.
    Gabriel’s Law sounds like a wonderful story. He sounds like a “Shane” kind of man.

  2. While I think that the famous “Shane! Come Back!” line works well in the film, I agree that it probably wouldn’t have worked in the novel.

    In addition to your point about stunting Bob’s growth, Cheryl, Shane’s role as a mentor in general was no longer needed either. I feel that while Shane was integral in Bob becoming more of a man, there was so much more that Bob had to learn that only his dad could teach him. Practically, Joe could teach his son how to farm and Shane could teach him how to shoot. Therefore, since Bob needs only one mentor, Shane realized that he had to leave. If Bob called to him, it would seem as if Bob desired Shane’s mentorship over Joe’s, which would be disappointing since that isn’t what Shane wanted.

    Still, as you said, Shane is an awesome story and it’s on my personal top 10 Westerns. Thanks for the post on it!

  3. What an insightful look at a classic western. I’ve only seen the movie, but your post made me want to spend the day reading the book. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for the weekend. Something to look forward to…

  4. Through your wonderful post, you have certainly made we want to read Shane. I have seen the movie many times and loved it but I have never read the book. Books are so much better…I will have to get this one! I also feel that Gabriel’s Law is a must read. I can’t wait to read about Brandon’s strong, tough side and then as love enters into the mix with Allie, what lies ahead for both of them. Thank you for the chance to become a winner!Keeping my fingers crossed!

    melback at cebridge dot net

  5. And that is why I love P&P. You have finally made my hubby’s random “SHANE! Come back!” outbursts make sense! LOL. I sadly admit I have never read the book or seen the movie. *ducking*
    I might have to remedy that. Great post! Gabriel’s Law looks great – I might have to add that to my TBR pile. 🙂
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  6. I never read the book, but the movie is one of my top 10 Western movies. Some endings of a book work for a movie, but most of the time the ending in the movie is different from the if did in one of my fav modern day western themed movies The Horse Whisperer. The ending was changed… I guess it just didn’t work for the director.

  7. I too have to say how much I love your cover of Gabriel’s Law. I didn’t read Shane but have seen the movie. Loved your excerpts!


  8. Thanks for the re-introduction of SHANE. This is a wonderful story of love, transformation and loyalty. Young 11-year old Bob Starrett is looking for role models on his journey to manhood, and is fortunate to find two of them–his hard-working father, Joe, and – of course – Shane, a gunman who doesn’t wear a gun, trying to put his past behind him. Joe and Shane personify the concept of loyalty because both have each other’s back. The story also exemplifies love of family. SHANE is a story plotted with a sense of symmetry.

  9. Cheryl, I never read the book but I watched the movie with Audie Murphy a long long time ago. I can’t remember much about it and I was young. I’m definitely going to download the book into my Kindle. I need to read this. Thanks for bringing this post back. A classic story for a classic week. Nothing can be better.

  10. SHANE is, in many ways, the grand-daddy of the “modern” (as in post-Zane Gray, post-Owen Wister) traditional western. And the movie is not only based on the Jack Schaefer book, the screenplay is by the Pulitzer winning A. B. Guthrie… you can’t go wrong.

  11. Hi Elizabeth!

    I know you are so busy, but this is a book you will love, and it’s short. Once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down. I can see why it was named the best western book ever written!

    I never thought about Brandon Gabriel being a “Shane” kind of man, but you are so right! Lots of similarities between them.

    Thanks so much for your comments, dear friend!

  12. Hi Frindlesmith,

    Those are some excellent points. Never thought about him only being able to have one mentor, but you are so right–and what his father could teach him was much more necessary for the kind of life he was going to live. Shane knew that, too.


  13. Alisa,

    I’m glad to hear you say that. This is a book that I believe everyone should read. It would be great if they’d teach it in highschool, but it will probably never happen. Yes, it’s something to look forward to reading, and you won’t want it to end!


  14. Crystal,

    Shane is short and the time flies as you’re reading it. It’s very powerful.

    Thank you for the compliment on the cover for Gabriel’s Law. The very talented Karen Michelle Nutt created that cover for me, and I have to say, it’s one of my favorite covers ever–for any book, any time, any place. LOL I was very lucky to have her for my cover artist.


  15. Melanie,

    The movie of Shane is excellent in its own right, as is the book. I do love the book more than the movie, but the movie is up there close to it–usually it’s a clear-cut case of the book being better than the movie, for me. It’s true in this case, as well, but I really did love them both. I hope you will get the book and read it.

    And thank you for your very kind words about Gabriel’s Law! I appreciate it so much. That’s one of my most favorite stories I’ve ever worked on.


  16. Susan! You made me laugh! “Shane! Come back!” is such a classic line that I think anyone who’s ever seen that movie and loved it has those outbursts like your husband does from time to time. I know I do. LOL

    Oh, yes, please read the book. You won’t be sorry–it’s almost like reading poetry, reading Jack Schaefer–what a debut novel!

    I hope you will also enjoy Gabriel’s Law. It’s one of my favorites.


  17. Kathleen, I agree–the endings of books often don’t work on the silver screen. I think it’s important for directors to realize that and change it if need be, but also realize that change is not good just for the sake of change–if the ending works, why change it? I truthfully can see why the director changed the ending for the movie. There are so many thoughts that Bob has in the book, that can’t be expressed in the movie. And in the book, he realizes why Shane has to go.

  18. Catslady,

    Thanks so much for your kind words about Gabriel’s Law. I always think when I see it, “Let the barn burn, as long as we have each other, who cares?” LOL And that’s just about how they feel toward each other!

  19. Connie, if you haven’t read it in a while, get it out and read it again–it’s worth it. You always see something you missed before when you re-read it!

  20. Anon1001, I have got you entered in the drawing. Hope you will take time to read Shane, and watch the movie if you get a chance. Both book and movie are wonderful

  21. Now, Tom, that gives me something to think about. “Shane is a story plotted with a sense of symmetry.” You’re right! Shane is a necessary “evil” during the story, but he’s given the chance to show his good side. Part of that is realizing that he has to go. There’s no place for him once the danger is over.

  22. Linda, yes, download it for sure. It’s SUCH a good read, and you will enjoy it, I know. So glad to know you enjoyed the post. I debated about posting this again, but I am such a Shane fan, I thought it would be good to put it out there once more.

  23. Troy, you know so much about the Hollywood side of things, and this just proves it. I never really even THOUGHT about the writer of the screenplay because it follows the book so closely–but that is a gift in itself! I’m sure that couldn’t be an easy task, knowing that it had to be so perfect–follow the book so closely and then diverge at the end to make it work. Excellent point!

  24. Colleen,

    I sure hope you’ll read it and watch it. It’s a great old movie, and of course, there’s nothing more I can say about how wonderful the book is other than what I’ve said already! LOL I’m glad you read the post and now have the joy of the discovery ahead of you.


  25. Cheryl, During my high school English teacher years, Shane was one of my required readings. I have an entire teaching unit to accompany it and the movie. It is such a great story on so many levels and so packed with moral and ethical dilemmas that make for wonderful class discussions. It’s one of those stories that stays with you forever.

  26. I’ve never read the book but have a copy of the movie, starring Alan Ladd. Every time I watch it I am impressed with what a great story it is. It is set in the west but the lessons of life apply everywhere.

  27. Wow, Cheryl. I guess I know I’m a western freak because reading this when you listed this as the best western of all time and then listed Owen Wister’s Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo, I got chills. What classic books. And I’ve read them all except SHANE. I know the movie so well it’s never occurred to me to read the book. But I just bought it.
    I hole in my cowboy lit knowledge will soon be filled!!!!!
    Great post. And then I think I’ll go re-read all three of the others. 🙂
    My favorite (well, maybe) Louis L’amour is Ride the River, with Echo Sackett, a female Sackett. OH, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I pick up a Louis L’Amour just every once in a while and re-read it. I haven’t read one in a while. I’m overdue for a classic western or two.

  28. I never read the story, Shane, but I saw the movie. I really didn’t like how it ended with Shane leaving. I liked your KANE series better.
    I loved Gabriel’s Law. Whoever wins it is going to be one very happy reader.
    All the best to you, Cheryl.

  29. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I look forward to reading SHANE. GABRIEL’S LAW will also be a must read on my list. I can’t wait to find out what the future holds for Brandon and Allie!

  30. Cheryl, not only do you have a way with words in you own work, your ability to tell the story that other writers have written is compelling. If anyone hadn’t read “Shane”, your review would convince, no drive, them to read the whole story. Loved the post. Doris

  31. Kaye, bless your heart! I’ve harped about this before–why highschools don’t make the required reading something that kids would ENJOY and find age appropriate so it would foster their love of reading rather than make it drudgery. At that time in my life, I could no more have cared about Silas Marner than the man in the moon.

    You’re so right–it’s one of those stories that stays with you forever, and I bet all the kids that read it in your classes will think of westerns in a whole new way.


  32. Hilltop Farm Wife,

    Yes, you’re so right. The life lessons are timeless and the movie was just excellent. I hope you’ll read the book, too. It’s soooo worth it!

  33. Oh, Mary, I loved Echo Sackett! What a great character–especially after all the male characters he created in the Sackett saga–it was time for a female! LOL

    So many great L’Amour books–one of my faves is Conagher, and though the movie was good, I loved that book because of the way the land and elements became another character in that story.


  34. Cheryl,

    Great post. I hate admit I’ve never read SHANE, and I saw the movie years and years ago when I didn’t appreciate Westerns. I might have to get both and rectify this oversight.


  35. Sarah, thanks so much for stopping by today–I know you are very busy with your new release! And thank you so much for your compliment about my Kane stories–They were reminiscent of Shane in a way, but with a different ending. LOL

  36. Well, thank you, Britney–I have it in mind to do some stories based on the other characters in Gabriel’s Law–I hope I can get to those soon! And I hope you’ll enjoy it when and if you read it.

  37. Doris, thank you so much for that endorsement, dear friend! I appreciate your support! Thanks for coming by today, reading and commenting. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

  38. Kirsten, now that you are having to slow down some with your cold for a few days, maybe it would be a good time to just lie around in p.j.’s and read Shane and watch the movie. LOL That’s a sure fire way to feel better, if you aren’t in the “weepy” mode that sometimes comes with feeling sick.
    Hugs, and feel BETTER!

  39. Knew I should have come by earlier. I enjoyed the SHANE post the first time and enjoyed revisiting it. Unfortunately, I still haven’t read it or watched it. I am certain I have a copy upstairs somewhere. If not, I’ll download it for my kindle.

    Thanks for a review. Have a great Fall.

  40. Patricia, you need to go dig it out and give it a thorough reading! LOL Yes, if you don’t find it, be sure to download it and then you’ll have it when you find a minute to get started on it. Glad you came by!

  41. Thanks for the interesting post, Cheryl!

    Haven’t seen the movie Shane, or read the book. However, I remember how much I enjoyed watching TV westerns when I was a child – The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Zorro, Gunsmoke, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, etc., etc..

    Would love to read your book! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

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