Thursday, September 1, 2011

How the west was won by some modern ladies

Dorothy Wickenden's Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West went on my to-read queue thanks to a feature on NPR, but it's apparently been getting quite a bit of buzz lately on its own accord.

Authored by the executive editor of The New Yorker, Nothing Daunted tells the story of two women who head west from upstate New York in 1916 to teach school in the wilderness of Colorado. These were society girls, lifelong friends and recent graduates of Smith College, that were never expected to work, much less work in a remote mountaintop schoolhouse thousands of miles away. Life out west obviously took some adjusting—riding miles on horseback to school no matter the weather, clothing kids without the resources to keep themselves warm in the winter—but Dorothy and Rosamund were the adventurous type, embraced the lifestyle, and won the hearts of the community.

This was a fun book for me, as someone who has shows like "The 1900 House" on her Netflix queue and relishes storytelling that gives a glimpse of life in the past. Not only does it give a detailed account of Ros and Dorothy's experiences, Wickenden wrote this book with context; we learn about western railroad expansion as we read anecdotes about the role it played in daily life in the tiny town of Elkhead.

I can't decide what this book made me want to do more, go out west or go back in time. But it definitely ignited my sense of adventure.

Ultimately, Nothing Daunted is an ode to an experience. It doesn't end with any real overt message or lesson to learn. Instead, it chronicles this experience of Dorothy and Ros and reminds the reader that some are the kind never to be forgotten.

And hey! This fulfilled one of my missions to read about the western experience!

1 comment:

John Grisham Novels said...

A marvelous book, I really liked it.