September 2, 2012

Recommendation: Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden




In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, bored by society luncheons, charity work, and the effete men who courted them, left their families in Auburn, New York, to teach school in the wilds of northwestern Colorado. They lived with a family of homesteaders in the Elkhead Mountains and rode to school on horseback, often in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The young cattle rancher who had lured them west, Ferry Carpenter, had promised them the adventure of a lifetime. He hadn’t let on that they would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.

Nearly a hundred years later, Dorothy Wickenden, the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff, found the teachers’ buoyant letters home, which captured the voices of the pioneer women, the children, and other unforgettable people the women got to know. In reconstructing their journey, Wickenden has created an exhilarating saga about two intrepid women and the “settling up” of the West.



While reading this I kept thinking YOU GO GIRLS! I was impressed by the pictures and snippets of the women's letters that the author shared. If you like history, women busting out of their prescribed roles or frontier stories I think you'll enjoy this read.

Have you read this book? Do you plan to?

8 comments:

  1. Yes, I did read this book earlier this year and loved it. I was impressed with these gutsy women considering the era in which they lived. Women during this era just were not independent enough financially or in their own minds to travel far from home and work in an area that was "roughing it."
    Thank you.

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    1. As I was reading about them I felt so proud of them for going for it :) I also really enjoyed the way they talked about the children that they were teaching. They did some of those kids a world of good :)

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  2. Old letters are some of the most interesting things. I have always been fascinated by them. Most were not written to be read a hundred years later. Yet when they are read, it is as if they are opening up a secret portal to the past.

    This book looks good.

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    1. I'm with you on that Brian. I'm fascinated with history but especially the personal history that comes through in old letters :)

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  3. Adding to my ever-expanding TBR list. I've read two similar books in the past: No Life for a Lady by Agnes Morley Cleaveland and Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. Nothing Daunted sounds less "And we are ranchers!" than those two.

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    1. Right ;) They went to teach not to ranch so it's different that way. I'm going to have to look up the two books that you've mentioned. I'm a big fan of nonfiction

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  4. This sounds like a really interesting read! Certainly not one I'd heard of before, so thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. You bet Amy ;) I wish I could remember where I first heard of this book. I need to get myself organized, yikes!

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