The solace of open spaces

by Gretel Ehrlich

Hardcover, 1985




New York, NY : Viking, 1985.


A collection of essays in which the author discusses her personal relationship with the natural beauty and harshness of Wyoming.

User reviews

LibraryThing member sarah-e
An elegant memoir of a hard life. I bought this on vacation in a lonely, wild place because the title seemed to fit what I was feeling. It held up, even after I returned to the city where I live. This book feels like a gift. I wish it had been longer.
LibraryThing member mkbird
Just about completed this in 2012, its a wonder and I begin to be glad I made all these notes about things to read. Will have to change the tag to indicate those which I actually picked up and read. My sister lives in Montana and I have driven through Wyoming many times. The West is not all macho and hostile. Loved this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member manadabomb
I took this book on vacation simply because it was compact and didn't take up a lot of space. After reading it, I wonder how it could be so small when the writing and language was so large.

"Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are. We are often like rivers: careless and forceful, timid and dangerous, lucid and muddied, eddying, gleaming, still." Whether she's reflecting on nature's teachings, divulging her experiences as a cowpuncher, or painting vivid word portraits of the people she lives and works with, Gretel Ehrlich's observations are lyrical and funny, wise and authentic. After moving from the city to a vast new state, she writes of adjusting to cowboy life, boundless open spaces, and the almost incomprehensible harshness of a Wyoming winter"

Ehrlich moved to Wyoming permanently after her boyfriend passed away and became a helper on a ranch. This book, in incredibly flowing language, describes the Wyoming landscape, the ranches and all that goes on in that entirely alien world.

While I found myself skipping through some of the more descriptive passages, I did enjoy this book and wondered how I missed all this about Wyoming on my travels through that state. Anyone who chooses ranching is obviously made of tougher stuff than I am, since some of the descriptions of the work, such as sheepherding, made my skin crawl. I'm really not an outdoors girl.
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LibraryThing member LaurieAE
Highly recommended on so many levels. About time for me to re-read this book.
LibraryThing member Polaris-
Some beautiful sections of prose here, the author can clearly write with some panache. Overall I was slightly disappointed as I think I was expecting something a bit more substantial. Suffice to say I'm just about intrigued enough to want to check out other books by Gretel Ehrlich.
LibraryThing member tgraettinger
I found this to be interesting reading about her time spent in Wyoming. Her prose is almost poetic at times, with an unusual ... bluntness. Easy to read, easy to enjoy.
LibraryThing member gregorybrown
A short, very evocative book about the rural west, and specifically Wyoming. It reminded me quite a bit of John Williams' Butcher's Crossing, but while that book took place near the end of buffalo hunting, this one was contemporaneous (when it was written in the 1970s). Kinda falls into the generic creative non-fiction trap towards the end as she moves from telling about her personal experiences to more reportage about some of the other, native perspectives of the land, which is the only thing that kept it from being near perfect. It's already a very short, compressed gem of a book, but it would have been well-served to be a bit shorter yet.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Brief. Some interesting observations. Best when she stepped away from herself and just told us what she noticed, which wasn't often. Much too much was filtered through her urban literate pretensions. Everything the cowboys, Indians, sheepherders, and animals did was interpreted by her expectations and dreams.
LibraryThing member sbsolter
The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich, is a beautiful little book that I happened upon in the sale bin at a used book store. In the late 1970s, Ehrlich traveled to Wyoming on assignment for her work, and stayed because it draw her in in her grief upon losing her loved one to cancer. She lived there for many years, living and working on ranches, and this book is a collection of essays describing her time there and the feeling of living there. Her writing is lyrical and almost what I would call "prose poetry" at times. She conveys effectively the wide open feeling of Wyoming, and I was easily able to imagine the scenes and sensations she described. It is a lovely book and I highly recommend it. Here is a quote, selected randomly:

In Wyoming we are supplicants, waiting all spring for the water to come down, for the snow pack to melt and fill the creeks from which we irrigate. Fall and spring rains amount to less than eight inches a year, while above our ranches, the mountains hold their snows like a secret: no one knows when they will melt or how fast. When the water does come, it floods through the state as if the peaks were silver pitchers tipped forward by mistake.
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LibraryThing member FKarr
rambling musings on life of New York City woman who goes to live in Wyoming



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