Using lyrical prose, author Anna Keesey tells the story of Esther, an eighteen year old orphan from Chicago who travels west to Century, Oregon, a frontier town in the early years of the twentieth century, to live with her distant cousin, her only known relative.
Against the backdrop of the range wars between cattle ranchers and sheep farmers, Esther must live in her cousin Pick's cabin for five years, which will automatically add it to his spread.
Not your ordinary Western, nor your typical romance novel, Little Century taught me about the struggle to survive in a land where water is scarce and the promise of free land if only you can work it is fast disappearing. When we are about to lose our livelihood, we become desperate, and some of us become violent. Keesey managed to portray the struggle for land with empathy for both sides, and, just like life, with no easy answers.
Her writing is entertaining, educational and thought-provoking, even philosophical. Read sentences like this: "Whoever grasps territory on a plain of dust, a green island, or a rich field in France grasps sand...liberty must move inside, to be found in the mind." You just have to stop and think about that before you can read on. And there's plenty more where that came from.