Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Daughter's Walk

Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novel about a walk across America by a mother and daughter in 1896 brings many issues to light. This feisty woman decided to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City, a distance of 3,500 miles, to advertise a new line of clothing for the modern woman, a shorter dress that exposed her ankles. Her spunky idea was formed when the clothing industry offered $10,000 to a person who would do it, and she needed to money to save her family's farm.

Helga, the mother, was ingenious in her endeavor. As they travelled, she found places to speak to tell about their journey. Clara, the daughter, did not want to go on the journey at first, but she became a willing helper before it was over. They kept a diary and collected artifacts. Clara drew pictures to tell about their adventure. Their hope was to write a book about it when it was over.

This was an actual event which was supposed to take seven months. However, because of circumstances, the women did not reach their destination on time and the sponsors withheld their payment. The women were left in New York City with no money and no way to get back home. They found employment to care for themselves and to try to save money to buy their tickets.

When they finally arrived home, Ole, the father, and Ida, the sister who had been left in charge of the younger children, were bitter with resentment because of the long absense of their mother and sister. This deep resentment eventually drove Clara away, and she found employment with a woman she had met on the trip.

Clara stayed with her employer for the next twenty years, estranged from her family, who refused to accept her monetary help. They lost their farm and lived poorly. They refused to let their mother write or talk about her trip, and rebuffed every effort Clara made to remain on good terms with them.

This book is not a "happily-ever-after" one, but is one that depicts the stresses that arise in families when conflicts come. This Norwegian family felt that their mother and sister had abandoned them. Then, when Clara went to work for one of the people who had orignally sponsored the trip, they said she was taking "dirty money" and they could not forgive her. This book was very well written and impelling with its honesty and openness. It was provided to me free by Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine doing a trip like that, even now - but in 1896, women's roles were so well-defined, I can sort of understand how the family felt - but to withhold forgiveness when their trip was to benefit the family? - that seems awfully unfair.