SHANE! COME BACK! by Cheryl Pierson

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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37 thoughts on “SHANE! COME BACK! by Cheryl Pierson”

  1. Hi Cheryl, I hope you are feeling better. I have never read Shane, I’ve only seen the movie and really enjoyed it. I must get a copy as the book is always better!

    I would love to know more of Brandon and Allie’s story. Gabriel’s Law sounds like one not to be missed! Thank you for the great post! And thank you for the opportunity.

    • Hi Melanie! Yes, I’m feeling much better now. The movie is very good, but I do think the book is better, because we can know Bob’s thoughts. You won’t be sorry! I’m putting your name in the hat for the drawing. Thanks so much for stopping by today and commenting.

  2. I think my husband watches Shane every time it comes on the Western channel! It’s a wonderful story..

    “Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?” I’d love to read your book, Gabriel’s Law and find out!
    dkstevensne AToutlookDoTCo M

    • Hi Deanna!

      Well, it’s one of those movies that’s hard to click past when you see it’s on. My husband is that way about most ANY John Wayne movie. If it’s on, no matter where it is in the movie–we are watching it until it’s over. Which is fine–I love John Wayne, too. LOL Thanks so much for stopping in today! Got your name in the drawing!

  3. Cheryl, I hope you get back on your feet soon and going ninety to nothing again. A great blog to repost. There is nothing better than Shane. Great, great story and movie that features Audie Murphy.

    Meanwhile, rest and follow the doctor’s orders. Hugs!

    • Hi Linda! Bless your heart for stopping by in the midst of all you do–I know you are busy as all get out! I’m feeling pretty good, actually–better than I expected. It was “just” gall bladder surgery, but you know how that anesthesia knocks you for a loop. I think I’m still “under the effects” nearly a week later! LOL (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) Thank you so much for coming by!

  4. Never seen it. Have seen some of the other old western movies or tv shows. Don’t have cable. But love a good western book.

    • Kim, the movie is very good, but I do love the book. It’s really masterfully written–and it amazes me that it was his debut novel! Got your name in the drawing! Thank you for coming by and commenting.

    • Tanya, I am. I’m feeling a lot better. You would love the book. It’s short. And the way he uses the language to say things is just unparalleled. You would love it.

  5. Well, shoot! Now I’m going to have to read the book again. It’s been years since I read it. I loved it then and will no doubt love it again. To me, honor is the best of all conflicts, and that’s what I liked about the story.

    Gabriel’s Law sounds wounderful too. Hope you’re on the mend.

    • Oh Margaret, I SO agree with you about honor being the best of all conflicts. And that’s what makes Shane so heartwrenching, in so many ways.

      Thank you for the kind words! I’m feeling much better. I have to go back on the 30th for a follow up, but I’m expecting everything to be fine.

    • Aw, thank you so much, Colleen. God is good. I didn’t have to have the major incision, just the laparoscopy, and it all went really smoothly. I still need those hugs, though! Got you in the drawing, dear lady!

  6. Okie, Shane is powerful fiction. I always thought it was such a shame they made a movie from the novel, because there was no way to do the heart of the story justice on the screen — at least not in a way that would have created a commercial success. The only thing most people really know about the story is that iconic final line: “Shane! Come back!”

    You included one of my favorite sentences from the novel in this post, and I think it tells readers everything they need to know about Shane’s mysterious past: “…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.” The answer to some mysteries is best left to the imagination. 🙂

    This would be why you’re such a good writer: You can analyze what works and doesn’t work in other people’s fiction, and then innately incorporate all of that into your own work.

    • Kathleen, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I always look forward to hearing from you. And thank you for the very kind words about my own work. I appreciate it! There are so many wonderful quotes to choose from throughout that entire book that it’s hard to pick only a few to talk about.

  7. I didn’t know Jack Schaefer’s wrote all those stories. I personally love Monte Walsh and liked the movie with Tom Selleck playing Monte. It was sad times. I think I have to read some of his books now as books are so much better then the movies. Thanks for sharing this story Shane, with us.

    • Shirl, he really was an excellent writer, and I love his work. But for me, Shane is the one I always come back to–there’s just so much to enjoy and learn from that story. Thanks for coming by today!

  8. I don’t know how I ever missed reading SHANE. I did read the VIRGINIAN and have copies of the others that I haven’t yet read. I will be looking for Shane and will most likely read it before getting to the others.
    I like the premise of GABRIEL’S LAW and look forward to reading it some day soon.

    • Patricia, Shane is such an easy read, and you would finish it quickly, I know. And then, you’d probably do like me and want to go back and re-read it again, right then! LOL Just me, but I loved Shane more than the Virginian. It just has so much in it–things you might not see at first, but then…

      Thanks so much for coming by. I know you are really busy.

  9. It was fun to be reminded of an old favorite book. Take care of yourself, Cheryl. It’s okay to take a break from the computer (and work) to let yourself heal and relax!

    • Hey Linda! I’m so glad to see another Shane lover here amidst the pack! Isn’t that a great story? But so simple. And congratulations to you! I’ve been seeing all your releases in the Brides With Grit series. Can’t wait to have a chance to read some of those. Love your covers and the stories all just look so tempting.

      You’re right–it’s hard to slow down for something like this when you’re used to being so on the go. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Linda. I know you’re really busy right now!

      • Hi Cheryl, Thanks for the note back. Yes, I have four books I need to have done by fall so I need to keep my fingers on the keyboard and my mind in the 1800s. 🙂

  10. So enjoyed this post originally and it still is terrific. Glad you are doing better. Always found the week after surgery the toughest, but then…watch out world. Thoughts and prayers to you. Doris

    • Yes, Doris, you’re right. We have to remember to just let our bodies have the time to heal that they require, and as we get older it takes longer. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  11. My hubby will randomly yell “Shane!” And now I know why. Apparently he’s seen the movie! I will need to read the book now.

    • LOLLOL SUSAN! That cracks me up to think of him doing that. But once you read the book, you’ll see why Shane can’t stay no matter what, and Bob would never yell that to him in the book because he is growing up and he understands, too. Still, that’s a part of “Americana” isn’t it? “SHANE! COME BACK!”

  12. You’ve convinced me. I need to read SHANE and GABRIEL’S LAW. While I’ve heard about the movie I never saw it, but from the sound of it, the book would be a better deal.

    • Di, you will love the book, and it’s a quick read. It’s one of those that, when you finish it, you just sit and think about everything you’ve read. And you will probably need a box of tissues. It’s very emotional.

  13. Hope that you are well on the way to recovery. Why is it back issues become such a pain in the arse when you get older? Sure has a way of slowing you down.

    I loved both the book and the movie. I am a big sucker for films that don’t require a lot of special effects, that rely on the landscape to give you a feel of what the West is truly like. And the scenery in that film is magnificent. The fact it had a wonderful sound track and some music interwoven into the story was great, too. It’s certainly worth watching.

    Jack was a nice man. I had a young couple — friends from Endeavor — who named their only child Shane; after the movie character, Through a contact (Greg Tobin, another nice man), I was able to contact Schaefer and ask him to autograph a book to give to Shane; which he did, and very nicely. Shane’s full grown now, but every time I see him he tells me “I still have my book!”

    • Oh, Kit, what a great story! That was so nice of you to do that, and I’m sure it means the world to Shane!

      I have to say, this is truly one of the best western movies and books ever. That a great achievement to be able to write something so wonderful at ALL, much less, as a debut novel.

      Love that story. And I’m feeling better, for sure. It’s been one week ago today since my surgery and I’m on the road to recovery.

      Thanks for coming by, and for the well-wishes!

  14. Shane! Shane! Come back! We were raised on this book and movie. My daddy who never left the field, but did when it was on tv or at the drive in. Oh, those were the days!

    • Melody, I remember my mama ironing my daddy’s khaki work pants after dark when it was cooler, watching old movies on tv–and those were the days when movies on tv, even the old ones, were not nearly as common as today. But there were westerns on lots of times, and Shane was one of our favorites. Yes, those were the days, for sure!

  15. HI, from a fellow Oklahoman and historical western writer I am so pleased to find your page. I have four books out now on Oklahoma and Indian Territory and am into my fifth, which will be the complete story of Cherokee Bill.
    I must say that Shane was a great movie. It was the first movie I say as a young boy that really was a believable western. Of course, I went every Saturday to see Roy, Gene, Hoppy, and all the others, but Shane gave me the feeling of realness and possibility that were absent from all the others.
    I will have a look at your page and pick up a few copies. My blog is “History comes alive”

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