"The Daughter's Walk" by Jane Kirkpatrick
In 1896, Helga Estby and her daughter, Clara, embark on a journey that would change the course of their lives and alter their family dynamics forever. In order to save the family farm, Helga takes on a challenge by a team of sponsors to earn $10,000 by walking from Spokane, Washington to New York City within 7 months and with the condition they are to earn their own way, wearing the new "Reform Dresses". Being the mother of several children, the youngest younger than two, her Norwegian husband strongly disagrees with the venture, but Helga is determined, seeing it as a way out of foreclosure for her family. Forcing her 18 year old daughter, Clara, to quit her job and accompany her, she strikes out on an amazing journey that brings many hardships and dangers but also many joys. Receiving shocking news on several fronts, the two return home after having been gone a year, having accomplished the walk, but also failing to collect the money when the sponsors don't pay up, facing criticism from both family and a community that is scandalized by what they did. Criticism so harsh that it causes a rift within the family. Forbidden to speak of the journey, Helga's spirit is crushed and she retreats into her everyday life, while Clara leaves her family to make her own way starting a rift that would last 20 years.
Based on the true story of these two women's lives, Jane Kirkpatrick writes a story filled with historical fact and weaves fictional story into it to fill in the unknown pieces. I found the writing of the actual walk fascinating as was the suffragette movement, it's involvement in the women's walk and the reactions of the day to what many considered a shocking endeavor. It was also fascinating to me to be drawn into the relationship between mother and daughter, their reactions to one another, and their understanding of one another as the journey progressed. I was kept mesmerized throughout that part of the story. The story did start to slow down for me in the middle, however, during all the explanations of the fur industry of the time, not something I'm particularly interested in. However, the compelling emotional aspects of the characters and wondering if the rift would be healed kept me reading and I'm glad I did. A must read at the end is the Author's Notes and Acknowledgements. It fills in all the details of the historical facts and what parts were fiction. It made the story come to life. I'd recommend this story just for the study of what drives people, what makes us decide to do the things we do and for the fascinating true story of two women who went against the society norm in the hopes of bettering life for their family.
Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing a copy of this book for review.
You can purchase "The Daughter's Walk" here.