Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest Blogger Book Review: The Pioneer Woman; Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

By Allie Smith

Recently, while searching for my next book to read, I stumbled upon many reviews of the memoir, "The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." Isn’t that an awesome title?!? Ree Drummond is the Pioneer Woman, the author of two cookbooks, the host of a Food Network show, and a very popular, award-winning blogger (receiving millions of hits a month) on her Pioneer Woman website.

A few years ago, Ree started blogging about her own love story, as a treat for her fans. It was very popular and left the readers wanting more. A memoir was born. After reading some reviews, I was intrigued. I’m so glad I read her book, because it’s an absolute delight and I’ve since become a fan of her as a cook, as well. I’ve made two of her dishes and they were wonderful.

Ree was born in Oklahoma and spent most of her teen years dreaming about getting out of the (southern) Midwest. She attended college in southern California, where she dated a surfer, became a vegetarian and preferred designer clothes, especially high heels. After graduation, she decided she’d outgrown her surfer and the California life. She came up with a plan to settle in Chicago and take advantage all the opportunities a big city offered.

But first, she had to go home. Her older brother was getting married and she needed a place to stay while she came up with her big-city plan. Her plan was one thing I honestly didn’t quite understand. She never really revealed what she was going to do for work once she got to Chicago. Minor detail to quibble about, but I was still curious.

One night, while having drinks with friends in her hometown, she met a real cowboy. Her description of him, upon first sight, is truly the stuff of romance novels. He’s immediately dubbed the Marlboro Man. This girl was totally smitten and so was I. Throughout the book, the Marlboro Man never makes a false move, and comes across as a real life hero (not to beat a dead horse). Since Ree continues to only refer to her cowboy as Marlboro Man (and on her blog too), I can only assume the real man does not want us to know his name. This could be for fear that his fellow cowboys will make fun of him, or that Ree doesn’t want one of her readers to ride in and lasso him up for herself. Ree and the cowboy fall in love and it is very sweet and steamy (but not "Fifty Shades of Grey" steamy). She soon abandons all plans to go to Chicago, as well as her vegetarian ways.

The story is more than just two people falling in love. It’s also the combination of two very different lifestyles and two very different families. Ree’s dad is a doctor and she grew up on a golf course in a family with four children. She has a brother with special needs, who I loved, and not just because I’m a special needs parent. He was totally on the lovebirds’ side and Marlboro Man was wonderful with him, as well. Sadly, as Ree and her cowboy were falling in love and then planning a big wedding, her parents’ marriage was falling apart.

Marlboro Man’s family has been all about the land for generations. They are the real deal, salt-of-the-earth cattle ranchers through and through. Although Marlboro Man did attend college, he loves the land and it’s clear that rural life is for him. His parents are still happily married and his brother Tim is a hoot. The story of the first time Ree met Tim is priceless. Actually, all of Ree’s stories about ranch life are priceless. I completely identify with her clothes and shoe-loving ways, so I myself don’t know how she did it!
Right after their wonderful wedding (which successfully represented both sides of the aisle in décor, food and music), the newlyweds are tested by some serious real-life stuff. Not many couples could survive all that they did in that first year, but the fact that they did is a testament to their bond. I know it sounds corny, but it’s also very cool.

I loved their story, but I also loved Ree’s descriptions of “Frontier Life” and the lengths she had to change to be with the man she loves – and she never looked back. I know some feminists would have a field day with this, but I bet none of them is married to a guy like the Marlboro Man. He so clearly loves and respects Ree, and supports her in any way she needs. And…we know the ending of the story! Two decades and four kids later, they’re still together and if her blogs are any indication, they’re still deliriously happy. They have the best of all worlds. They live where and how they want and have satisfying careers that both fulfill their needs and enrich their family life.

Ree Drummond is a wonderful writer with a style that flows easily, allowing her personality to shine through on each page. She also left me wanting more! The way she easily conveyed emotions is perfect for fiction writing. But she could also write another memoir, because I’m dying to know how “Tractor Wheels” ended up on the Food Network!

Allie Smith, a former CPA who five years into her career decided that she hated working with numbers and willingly gave it all up to be a stay-at-home mom, lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and four children. In between carpool, play dates and refereeing the kids, she loves to read and write. The mother of a child with autism, she is currently working on a memoir of their journey.

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