Friday, March 29, 2013

"Nothing Daunted" by Dorothy Wickenden

The full title of this book is Nothing Daunted:  The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.  It's the story of how two young women from Connecticut (one of them the author's grandmother) went to Colorado in 1916 to teach school for a year.  In telling their story, the author also includes a bit of a history of that part of Colorado, the life stories of several of the people they meet there, and what happens to the two girls during the rest of their lives. 

Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood both came from wealthy families, graduated from college, spent a year together in Europe, and did not want to marry right away and raise families.  They wanted to make a difference, to be helpful and useful to other people outside their own circles.  So they answered a request for teachers at a new school in a rural Colorado community.  Despite having no teaching experience or training, off they went, embarking on an adventure that would gain one of them a husband and both of them a new outlook on life.  They taught those children about the world, about reading and writing and arithmetic.  But those hardy families still living the pioneer life while the rest of the world was tumbling toward World War I -- they taught Dorothy and Rosamond what strength of character and will really meant.

I love history, and I love reading about pioneers and cowboys, so this book fitted my interests very nicely.  I also really liked the contrast between these women's ideas on things like marriage and the way people view them today.  For instance, when one of them received a marriage proposal, she realized "I really was very much in love with him and he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with" (pg 140).  Do you see that?  She wasn't swayed only by emotion and sentiment -- she was also ready to make a lifelong commitment to this man, and had turned down other suitors previously because she could not see herself spending her whole life with them.  I was particularly struck by how both of these women insisted on marrying not merely for love, but for the rest of their lives.  If only more people were like that today!

If this was a movie, I would rate it:  G.  Nothing objectionable whatsoever!

You might enjoy this if you like these:  the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Christy by Catherine Marshall.

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