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!