One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had a difficult time deciding how much I really enjoyed this book. For starters, let me just say that the writing is excellent. Jim Fergus does an incredible job portraying an uncommon life on the frontier and despite this being a complete work of fiction, it feels very real as you read through the character's journals (again, it's a novel). The details are vivid and the story refreshingly original. Now, in my opinion the beginning of the story got off to a slow start, but once a few chapters in, it really began to draw me into the story to the point where I even cringed and mentally shouted for Mary Dodd to turn around and return home (I really don't want to give anything away), but let me step back a moment.
May Dodd heads west in order to "escape" from...(you'll find out) to marry a Cheyenne warrior. Along the way she has a variety of colorful women joining her (strong, weak, loud, obnoxious, etc), women of all kind who will also be wives, though the focus is on May's point of view. She has a brief love affair with an army captain, marries a chief and long before this is when you'll be shouting for her to turn back while at the same time wondering what will happen next.
So my hesitation in deciding whether or not I liked this book or not was in that I knew I wouldn't recommend it to many people I know (and no matter how real that part of life is, I don't need to read about people needing to relieve themselves so often). Not because it's not a great book or well-written, because it is. What I had a difficult time with was 1) the emphasis on certain words for the women who spoke with accents. I realize the author did this for a purpose and it makes sense, but it was distracting from the story and I wanted to skip over those bits, but then I would have lost some of the story because there was a lot of it. 2) the author did such a wonderful job with his realism to the point of crudeness (though not in a filthy way at all). On the flip side, the rawness of it all helped to deliver a wonderfully told story.
So, I wouldn't read it again and I would be careful to whom I recommend the book because of the realism, but hats off to Jim Fergus for such an original work and excellent writing.
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