On page 2 of this book, I fell in love with Elinore Pruitt Stewart. She was describing her new employer to her friend Mrs. Coney, and she wrote that when he played his bagpipe, "It is 'The Campbells are Coming,' without variations, at intervals all day long and from seven till eleven at night. Sometimes I wish they would make haste and get here" (2). I had to put the book down while I laughed and laughed, and I knew I was going to truly enjoy this book. And I did. In fact, I loved it so much that before I even finished it, I ordered a copy of its follow-up, Letters on an Elk Hunt. I'm very much looking forward to reading it.
So this book is actually a series of letters that this intrepid woman sent her friend and former employer after moving to Wyoming with her young daughter in 1909 to try her hand at homesteading. She took a job keeping house for a Scottish bachelor and filed a homestead claim and lived an amazing life. So amazing that after five or six letters, I started to suspect that this was a work of fiction, and had to do a little online research to see if it was really nonfiction or not. But it is! I learned that she truly sent all these letters to her friend, and eventually her friend persuaded Stewart to let her try to get them published. They were widely embraced and lauded, and rightly so -- I just can't believe it took me this long to read this book! Not only that, but I can't believe I hadn't even heard of it until a year or so ago! I'm not even sure who recommended it or why I bought it, but I know it sat on my TBR shelf for quite a while before I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! In fact, I gave a copy to my best friend for Christmas because I think she'll find it fascinating too.
Particularly Good Bits:
It was too beautiful a night to sleep, so I put my head out to look and to think. I saw the moon come up and hang for a while over the mountain as if it were discouraged with the prospect, and hte big white stars flirted shamelessly with the hills (4).
I am a firm believer in laughter (61).
To me, homesteading is the solution of all poverty's problems, but I realize that temperament has much to do with success in any undertaking, and persons afraid of coyotes and work and loneliness had better let ranching alone. At the same time, any woman who can stand her own company, can see the beauty of the sunset, loves growing things, and is willing to put in as much time at careful labor as she does over the washtub, will certainly succeed; will have independence, plenty to eat all the time, and a home of her own in the end (100).
Soon he asked, "Are you goin' somewheres or jist travelin'?" I told him I had started somewhere, but reckoned I must be traveling, as I had not gotten there (110).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for frontier hardships.
This is my 28th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club and my first for the Women's Classic Literature Event.