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“Pancho portrays the unsophisticated, simple, country-wise folk of a world that no longer exists.”
I am not certain that this is a historical novel, as such, although it does tell of interesting characters and is set in the 1950s. There is no plot, no start, middle or end. Instead the not far off 500 pages of this book are made up of vignettes depicting life of six horse-wranglers in the ‘50s on a Mexican ranch.
Pancho is their leader, an elderly man with a wealth of experience, his colleagues are Candido, Emilio, Jose, Gerardo, in modern terms, ‘special needs’ Julian and Juan, son of the ‘next door’ farmer.
Uneducated, but full of wisdom, humour and compassion, this big-hearted group of men go about their daily chores which we see through Pancho's philosophy of his own life. The 1950s were a time of change, post-war and on the brink of modernisation when air-travel was becoming possible and the horse was giving way to the motor car, when movies started to be made in colour and TV was about to become the norm. Some of the ‘scenes’ are short, in places only two pages, but we experience the heat of the mid-day sun, the long nights, the tough work, and share the humour, emotion and the camaraderie of this interesting group.
I have no idea what Mexico, or beyond my TV memories of Rawhide, Bonanza or the High Chaparral what a Mexican ranch or a wrangler’s life was like, but assuming this novel has accuracy, these pages gave me some insight. Despite it being a somewhat hefty tome, Pancho is a warm-hearted read.
© Ellen Hill