A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick | A Review

A Light in the Wilderness book cover

Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Based on a true story.

(Image and synopsis via Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Jane Kirkpatrick’s historical fiction never disappoints. A careful and detailed researcher as well as gifted writer, Jane shares eloquently the story of an African-American, freed slave woman named Letitia. The only one of her people travelling with a wagon train headed for Oregon.

However, Jane is also skilled at sharing multi-layered stories in her works, and here she also shares the lives and experiences of two other women: Nancy Hawkins, a woman who loses much on this long and treacherous trail, and Betsy, a Kalapuya Indian, the last of her tribe in the Willamette Valley of the Oregon territory.

As the seasons change, so do the lives of these women. As they suffer through birth and death, life and death, testing of their mutual faith, fear and courage, and almost losing one another, they experience lastly a bond not expected.

From the start, the story of Letitia, Nancy, and Betsy takes hold of the reader and never lets go. Character descriptions and their circumstances are so accurately told the reader feels transported to time and place.

I have to share that as an Oregonian transplanted from Tennessee I was excited for Letitia’s journey. However, without giving anything away, I shared some of her disappointment and fears upon arriving in Oregon.

My Recommendation:

Readers looking for well-written historical fiction should seek out Jane Kirkpatrick and her books. A Light in the Wilderness is well paced, engaging, full of history, and a strong story of faith. If you like a book you can enjoy in one or two readings, this will be one for your stack.

View the Trailer:

Book Details:
Publisher: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Published: September 2, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 978-0800722319

Meet Jane Kirkpatrick:

Jane KirkpatrickReviewers and readers alike acclaim Jane’s work as unique in a world of storytellers. “Kirkpatrick’s books enfold the reader. They whisper ‘let me tell you about a woman who…. They find a secret place in each of us and bring it gently to the surface.’” The Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon. While ranching and consulting on an Indian reservation, Jane produced 25 bestselling and award-winning fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestseller A Log Cabin Christmas and the Carol Award for 2013 as the best Christian historical fiction for Where Lilacs Still Bloom. Her works have sold over 500,000 copies and been translated into foreign languages. Creating stories from the lives of actual historical women or events, Jane’s focus is on telling stories that inspire and encourage. Her non-fiction titles reflect her Clinical Social Work experience and her understanding of the healing power of stories. Jane now lives with her husband Jerry and two dogs near Bend in Central Oregon. She’s a lively presenter who has spoken about the power of story throughout the world. Enjoy receiving her Story Sparks newsletter by signing up at www.jkbooks.com.

Links to connect with Jane:

Blogger: http://janeswordsofencouragement.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theauthorjanekirkpatrick?ref=ts
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janekirkpatrick
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaneKirkpatrick
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/janekirkpatrick/
Web: http://www.jkbooks.com

(Image, bio and links via JKBooks)


I received a copy of A Light in the Wilderness via Revell Reads Blog Tour Program in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.



10 thoughts on “A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick | A Review

    • Hi Ceil! LOVE historical fiction too. I think you will enjoy Jane’s works. Visit her site and explore her other books and the history she researched on the characters in this particular book. It’s fascinating. I’m excited that on the 17th Jane is speaking about this book at a nearby library. Guess who’s going???
      Blessings and joy,


    • Dolly, I too love historical fiction and some day hope to write in that genre. I hope you get your hands on a copy of this book; I found it quite inspiring. I love this author’s use of her faith throughout the characters in her books. Glad you found the review helpful. 🙂


  1. I really enjoyed this novel. I was impressed with all of the history that went into it as well. The book trailer for it thrilled me when I first saw it. The narration came across just as how I imagined Letitia in my imagination. Thanks for the review.


    • I enjoy receiving comments from someone who has read the book I’m reviewing. And when I went to check out your blog, I discovered you love reading and writing, and you review books! Lovely! I agree the trailer was the kickstart for me. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back.


        • BTW, after my first visit to your blog, I snuck back to read some reviews, found a giveaway to enter, and followed your blog via email. Then, snooping further down into your footer section, I found that we review for some of the same blogging for books groups like Blogging for Books, Tyndale House, Revell and Bethany House. I do my Christian book reviews on my faith blog, Sowing Seeds of Grace (take a look). And it’s coincidence that we have such good taste in selecting WordPress themes, i.e. Hemingway Rewritten. See you later!


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