It’s hard to say what influences me to read a particular book. Sometimes it’s recommendations from friends or something I read, perhaps a review. Other times I may choose a book on a whim. That was the case with Ree Drummond’s memoir The Pioneer Woman. It was the illustration on the hardcover edition of the book that got my attention. I liked the image of the cowboy on his horse raising his hat and turning slightly in the saddle to smile at the woman riding with him. The woman, of course, is smiling up at him. The scene reminded me of the westerns I watched as a kid – Dale Evans and Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry, and Annie Oakley. After all that reminiscing, I couldn’t resist the book.
The subtitle, “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” serves as a good summary of the story. Drummond was at a crossroads in her life. She had spent seven years in L.A. and was in a relationship that she knew was not what she wanted. She returned to her parent’s home in Oklahoma to think about what she wanted to do next. She had begun making plans to move to Chicago when she met the cowboy she calls Marlboro Man. Soon after that, her transition from “black heels to tractor wheels” began.
Drummond’s memoir covers a narrow time frame from meeting Marlboro Man to their wedding and the birth of their first child. On the surface, it’s a love story, but there are also subplots that give the book depth including details about life on a ranch. If someone cornered me at a party and started talking about ranching, I would probably yawn and make a quick escape. But it was fascinating to learn what ranching is like through the eyes of someone who is experiencing it for the first time and wondering if she can adjust to that lifestyle.
As Drummond contemplates marrying Marlboro Man, she finds it hard to accept that her parents are thinking about ending their marriage. There is also the ex-boyfriend who still has hope for their relationship. Drummond weaves all of those parts of her life together in a well-written story.
As I was reading The Pioneer Woman, I discovered that Drummond’s book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime was on the bestseller list. As a biographer, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about what she had done since the time period she describes in her memoir.
It turns out that the cookbook I saw on the bestseller list is her fourth one, and she has a show on the Food Network. She also has a popular website where she shares her photography and recipes and blogs about life with her family on the ranch. The blog is where Drummond’s memoir began with humorous posts about her transition from city life to country girl. Her readers enjoyed those posts so much that Drummond decided to tell the whole story in a memoir.
She also writes children’s books that feature her “very lethargic” Basset hound, Charlie. She has her own product lines, and in August, she and her husband are opening a mercantile store and deli/restaurant. Drummond has come a long way from the young woman in her memoir. In that book she wondered what she would ever do for a job when she lived on a ranch so far away from the nearest town. She has obviously figured it out.