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Book Review: The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

A historical novel based on the amazing true story of two independent minded women that walk from the west coast to the east coast----7000 miles.

Published by Waterbrook Press April 5, 2011/400 pages
Historical Fiction/Women's Rights/Immigration/American History

In 1896 the Norwegian immigrant Estby Family are farming in rural Washington state near Spokane. A series of tragic events have left them on the verge of foreclosure. Helga Estby the mother has found a way to pay their farms mortgage, and she wants her eldest daughter Clara age 19 and herself to walk across America to New York City, a 7000 mile journey. If they reach their destination within 7 months they will receive $10,000. They are to walk, not accept a ride, nor beg, but a long the way they may earn money. At the start of the journey they are given a small amount of money and their photograph is taken. They walk following the rail road tracks. Clara had plans of her own to attend college. She is coerced by her mother and by the serious situation the family is in, she feels trapped and feels she has no other choice but to make this walk with her mother. Ole Estby the father of the family is silently angry about his wife's decision. Ida the sister just younger than Clara is shocked by her huge responsibility in now caring for the home and the rest of the Estby family. Each member of the Estby family will be changed forever by the decision that Helga Estby has made. In Helga's heart she is unflinching, she desperately wants to take the initiative to save the farm from foreclosure.
But, will the rest of her family feel that this far reaching decision was the right one?
Will Clara who accompanied her mother on this arduous journey continue to feel slighted and harbor hidden
pity for herself?

This is a huge story, more like a family saga. Each of the family members are deeply affected not just at the beginning of the story, but through out their life by this walk Helga and Clara took.
The story reflects unforgivess and bitterness in the characters, and how these ate away at them until it appeared in their countenance and in their own life choices. They chose to hold on to what had been done, playing the victim card often.
Helga's husband Ole was passive aggressive as well as sister Ida. Both with a tart sternness displayed a self-righteous pugnacious demeanor that gave me chills.
Helga was a woman a head of the times, during the late 1800's women (some) were coming to the mind set that they wanted equal rights, voting rights, the ability to hold a job for pay rather than a job as homemaker and mother. They definitely wanted their voice to be heard and taken seriously. They were tired of feeling slighted and belittled. This was the beginning of womens rights that came to fruition in the 1970's.
How many books in Christian fiction have any storyline about women's rights? I believe The Daughter's Walk was written with the author not placing her opinions in either camp of Women's Rights, but wrote an inspiring  story based on real women with eloquence and prudence.
The character Clara which is the main voice in this story is a person I could relate to. She is a character that is real, not over the top; but one that could have been me or any one of my friends. She is a thinker, settled, mature, level headed. She loved her family, was dedicated and felt a responsibility to them, yet she had the dreams and aspirations of a young woman. She was a butterfly that wanted to emerge from her chrysalis, yet was told she had to wait until her responsibilities were complete. On the other side of this journey, her future decisions were in response to that walk.
I loved, loved this story! I loved it for the story itself, for the walk that was not just a physical journey for the women, but a walk in spirit and character building. I loved the characters, even those that were not likable. I loved the surprises and twists. I loved the rhythm and pace of the story. I loved the fact that this story was not the typical Christian fiction book. Although in outwardness Christian "talk" is minuscule, instead that which is really most important runs throughout this book as a steady flowing river.....the outward display of Christ who lives in us.

Thank you to Waterbrook Press for my free Advanced Reader Copy for review.

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Price of paperback $8.99

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Price of paperback $9.39 and Kindle price $9.99

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Blissful Reading!


Eden said…
Wow, very thorough review. I also reviewed The Daughters's Walk and found that it was not your typical Christian historical fiction. Blessings,