1896 Walk Across America

The Daughter’s Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick is an historical novel based on very limited information available on Helga and Clara Estby’s walk across America but more particularly about Clara and her years of estrangement from her family.

In 1896, a time in America when women were still considered to be little more than possessions and not allowed a voice or the vote, Helga Estby in effect forced her daughter Clara, age 19, to go on a cross-country walk. Neither Clara nor Helga’s husband wanted the walk to happen and as a direct result of the walk there followed a 20 year estrangement from Clara and her family.

The walk was to occur over a period of seven months time, during which time they were to wear a new reform dress. Sponsored by the makers of the dress they hoped to prove women had stamina and the dress allowed them freedom for their busy lives. In return, Helga would receive $10,000 from the sponsors, money desperately needed to save the Estby’s home.

Jane Kirkpatrick has done a wonderful job of piecing together a story from little to work with. Her portrayal of the  two women’s walk, from Spokane, Washington to New York City, (a span of 3500 miles) and then their return home, is written in such a way that you feel you are there with them.

Her conjecture on Clara’s life is a delightfully written intertwined story based on her research and impressive imagination.

The ending left a little to be desired but I credit that to lack of information and not the author’s talent.

The Daughter’s Walk is in one of my favorite genres; historical fiction. I especially like when there is Biblical application included. That being said; I was disappointed there wasn’t more Biblical relevance introduced in the book.

I was provided this book  by WaterBrook Press in exchange for an honest review.
(Revision from 8/22/2011)

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