Not normally a reader of fiction, non-fiction being more my speed, this book caught my attention since it’s based upon the life of a real woman who lived in the Spokane area of Washington State, where I reside. Moreover, she is of Norwegian descent. My husband’s boss hails from Norway, and we’ve traveled to that country, so I had an inkling about its heritage, but wanted to learn more. The most intriguing thing aboutThe Daughter’s Walk, however, is the walk itself. Mother and daughter trekked from Spokane to New York City to raise money to save the family farm. They had entered a challenge in support of the ladies suffragette movement, which would pay $10,000 to whomever won.
So The Daughter’s Walk had 3 very persuasive ingredients which drew me in. It occurred in my own backyard, so to speak; it involved a culture with which I wanted to become more familiar; and undertaking the challenge was a phenomenal feat for women. It helped that I had also lived and worked in NYC, because I could visualize the ordeal and felt it an impossibility for 2 lone, female travelers to undertake.
Author Jane Kirkpatrick writes fluidly, so the read was relatively easy. In 385 pages she managed to cover quite a bit of the history of the Estby family, as told from the viewpoint of the heroine, Clara Estby. I must admit I’d not realized that the story was based upon real people and real occurrences. I probably picked up the book, turned to the first page, and started reading. I don’t tend to study the whys and wherefores, unless it’s a book for which I’m passionate to know every single detail, like a favorite person’s biography.
It’s probably just as well that I read Kirkpatrick’s book as pure fiction, because I was simply captivated to see it unfold as an imaginary piece. I was amazed at the details she included such as those with which Clara needed to educate herself to run a furrier business. Growing up in Hawaii, skinning animals for their luxurious pelts is totally foreign to me. Hence my captivation that a young woman would so involve herself.
Clara’s family background also touched a chord in me, since I’m the youngest of 9 who grew up without a father since he died when I was one. You’ll have to read the book yourself to see where she and I might have something in common. Suffice it to say, our childhoods weren’t normal, especially in relating to our siblings. Our moms also had their own burdens which weighed heavily upon those around them. Again I think Clara and I bore a resemblance in that we were extra sensitive to our mothers’ struggles to be independent, without success.
As expected, the walk from Spokane to NYC was not something any woman could undertake without consequences. I felt the author skimmed the surface of that entire experience. I thought mother and daughter would surely encounter so much more in the way of bad things happening, not that they hopped, skipped and jumped across the continent. But I thought they got off relatively unscathed. Except that how their adventure affected the remainder of their lives compensated for what I felt was lacking during the trek across country.
When I realized, at the conclusion of the book, that The Daughter’s Walk was, in fact, a historical recollection of true facts, which were slightly embellished to fill in the blanks, I was very excited. To think that these women really did undertake the walk from one coast to the other, and that Clara Estby’s experiences left her mature beyond her years, quite literally dumbfounded me. I’m not sure the same could be undertaken in our contemporary times, with the same results. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t.
I recommend The Daughter’s Walk for the unique experience it offers in a pleasantly told, conversational narrative. Jane Kirpatrick helps us to see that anything’s possible, with hope and determination.
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