Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"The Adventures of the Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart" by Susanne K. George

So, y'all already know that I dearly love Elinore Pruitt Stewart's two collections of letters, Letters of a Woman Homesteader and Letters on an Elk Hunt.  They're flavorful and fascinating and fun.  And the fact that they're mostly based in fact is just sooooooo cool to me.

Well, this is a combination biography of Stewart and a collection of MORE of her letters.  It shows just how much care she put into crafting her writings, more than I'd realized, but also highlights her brave pioneer spirit.  Yes, she consciously wrote many of her letters specifically to reach a wider audience than just the person the letter is addressed to.  Yes, she mixed fiction with facts when recounting some things.  Yes, I like her and her writing even more after learning more about her real self.


I've read a few negative reviews of Stewart's books that seemed like those people felt somehow cheated or deceived by her writing because she did write things specifically for publication.  As if her letters were no longer as true, or that they couldn't trust her.  I don't see her writing that way at all.  I now view her letters as almost like blog posts.  I write my blog intending for many people to read it.  When I recount real-life events like going to a live show, I'm not making up that I went to the show.  But I'm consciously crafting my words.  I'm adopting a bit of a persona -- I might not use the same words and descriptions when telling the story in a private letter to a close friend as I will when writing it up for my blog.  I'm writing as Hamlette, just as she was writing as the Woman Homesteader.  I think her readers in the day understood that, just as you, my blogging friends, understand that.  

Anyway.  Stewart had an amazing, adventurous life.  She chose to share that lifestyle with others through letters both public and private, and the fact that we can read those letters today fills me with joy.

Particularly Good Bits:

To get away from every one is a blessing to be eagerly seized some times and I was deeply enjoying cave man freedom (p. 154).

I must warn you, though, that I cannot be a lady.  I'm just me.  I cannot put on airs (p. 164).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for descriptions of illnesses, accidents, mild violence, and general hardships.



This is my tenth book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge!

8 comments:

  1. This sounds like a good read! I truly admire people who can write things based on facts and personal experience, it's got to be as hard as pure fiction.

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    1. PioneerGirl, it's really good! And yes, I think it has its own set of difficulties that are no less challenging than total fiction.

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  2. I love it! I don't care if she forethought how to write her letters; she still provides great insight into the pioneer spirit and life. Don't know if I've added this one, yet, but you know it will go on my wishlist, if it is not already there.

    Did I tell you that Elinore's great granddaughter (Jerine's granddaughter) commented on my Instagram post about the first book? She said her mom was the same strong willed lady as Elinore. Actually another great granddaughter also commented on the post. They are very proud of their GGrandmother. Be sure to #Elinore's name and maybe they'll find your post about her books, too, if they haven't found you already.

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    1. BTW, I loaned the first book to my friend, who loved it so much, she bought her own copy AND a copy of the Elk Hunt.

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    2. Ruth, I agree. They ARE marvelous, and no amount of quibbling about how much fiction is mixed with fact will make me think otherwise. You will definitely dig this book.

      One of her descendants did pop up on an IG post of mine about this! That was such a treat :-)

      I gave my dad a copy that had both Homesteader and Elk Hunt in the same volume, and he read it in one sitting, cover to cover :-D

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    3. Awesome!

      And that's very cool that your dad enjoyed the letters, too.

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  3. Good luck finishing the challenge. You are almost halfway there!

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    1. Thanks, Bethi! Yeah, if I manage to read mostly stuff I've owned since at least 2018 for the rest of the year, I think I can still hit that goal :-)

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