Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

Helga Estby and her nineteen-year-old daughter Clara walked from Spokane, WA to New York City in 1896.  The Estby farm was behind in mortgage payments and foreclosure was in the future.  This walk would provide ten thousand dollars in prize money and save the farm.
The walk is only part of the book and was, for me, the least interesting part of the book.  The journey had events of excitement and then, apparently, long periods with nothing interesting happening.
Most of the book deals with Clara's life after she is forced out of the family.  One learns a great deal about the family structure of Norwegian immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  There is also much on family loyalty and what really defines a family. Clara's step-father made me so angry, but men of that era were of such a stubborn nature, I think.
One also learns much about the fur trade of that era.
I listened to the audio of this book, which was painful.  The articulation, especially of the Norwegian accent, is very precise and definite.  I almost felt the book could have been a CD shorter if the reading had been a bit faster.  I think I would have preferred print. 
I have read many other of Kirkpatrick's historical fiction and this one was not my favorite.
There was no afterward with the audio identifying which parts of the book were based on historical facts and which were totally fiction.  In the novel the personally written accounts were destroyed or stolen so I suspect much of this account is fiction, based on newspaper reports.

Waterbrook Press, 400 pages, Random House Audio, 13 hours.

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