Thickwood by Gayle M. Smith Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A former player for the All-American Girls Baseball League finds herself facing a new battle as she works to save the land her family held and the horses that live within it in author Gayle M. Smith’s “Thickwood”. 


The Synopsis

Raised on a ranch in Saskatchewan’s rugged Thickwood Hills, where the prairie transitions to the forest, Willomena Swift, home from playing for the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, finds a precious foal killed by a rogue stallion.

The stallion’s owner, once Willo’s baseball coach, now chairs the committee heading up the new cooperative pasture—a pasture that is set to swallow her family lease, where she grew up, learned to love and understand horses and dreamed of returning to raise them.

Facing numerous challenges with both the stallion and his owner, Willo remembers her past years playing professional baseball as she struggles to realize her dreams in the present.

Amid romance and tragedy, Willo must find a way to stand on her own and assert her rightful place in her beloved Thickwood.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and richly developed period drama meets genre fiction read. The author expertly wove a special story of facing adversity head-on and overcoming the tragedies we are hit with in life in an effort to move forward, pursue our dreams and maybe even find love. The atmosphere and tone helped elevate the novel’s deep-seated themes and powerful character development, and the rich setting of the late 1940s, early 1950s era middle America kept me invested in these characters with some fantastic history.

Yet as I mentioned before, the character growth and themes that this novel explored really made it something special. The ways in which the protagonist not only grew into the role of the independent and secure land owner but also used this growth to highlight the themes of empowerment, the struggle through adversity, and the will to find our passions in life, made this novel such a stunning work of art. The history and culture of middle America during this period of time were so rich to see come to life on the page, as it highlighted the struggle many independent women had as our nation came out of the war and women were found to be running the lives that these men had left behind during the war. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and entertaining, author Gayle M. Smith’s “Thickwood” is a must-read genre fiction novel. The period piece does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of Willo’s life, from her past as a star player to her desire to run her family’s livelihood and care for the horses that brought her so much joy as a child. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Gayle M. Smith, author of Thickwood, grew up in Alberta. She distinctly remembers her family life on a mixed subsistence farm in central Alberta where, as a young child, she developed a love for animals, especially horses, and a love for reading and writing illustrated stories.In 1989, Gayle married a Saskatchewan farmer and settled into rural life to raise three children, numerous crops, purebred and commercial cattle, and horses. Gayle and her husband used the local PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) Federal pasture program for their commercial cattle. They also used their horses to gather and trail their cattle to various home pastures. Gayle was accepted into the 2011 Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Mentorship program, where she drafted her first novel. Gayle has also been a member of a writer’s group for over ten years. In 2015, Gayle graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing.Yearly wilderness pack trips in Northern Saskatchewan with her horses inspire her writing. She also rides in the mountains, competes in numerous equestrian events, and owns and operates a horse boarding facility. Gayle’s love of the environment, history, and adventure shines in her writing. She daily interacts with her beloved partner, her family, her horses, and her rural home, while contemplating and exploring through her writing the struggle and dilemma of being human.


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