The 'Wild West' is something that's never really grabbed my fancy too much, and as such I don't think I've ever actually read a book based around it. But it's such a massive part of the American literary canon that I couldn't ignore it forever. The Virginian is the first fully-fledged Western ever published, so I think it was a pretty good place to start!
The Virginian is the unnamed protagonist of the novel. He is a ranch hand who has an unsavoury past, but stands up for justice throughout the novel. The Virginian gambles, drinks and is no virgin to killing, but the latter he has only done to criminals, in particular, cattle rustlers.
The Virginian's morally dubious past makes everything a little tricky when he falls for the new school marm in his town, Miss Molly Wood. The Virginian isn't a man who stays in one place; as a ranch hand he must move from place to place, wherever his work takes him. Soon, he begins to miss the town he belongs to, and the woman that stays there.
Molly too sees the allure in the badass ranch hand. But, when she learns of sordid details in his past, she is stuck with a moral dilemma. Does she agree to court the man she loves, even though his past is not clean?
Back in her home town, Molly was destined to marry a pure man that she had known since childhood, but she simply had no feelings for him. She knows her family would be against her pursuing a relationship with the Viriginian, but she does so eventually, and soon finds out who her true supporters are.
Have you read it? What did you think?