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)
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.
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.
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Publisher: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Published: September 2, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages
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Links to connect with Jane:
(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.