Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Author: Jim Fergus
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible for iTunes
Books I've read this year: 86
May Dodd is living in a mental institution in Chicago in 1875 when she hears of a way out of the asylum-- all she has to do is commit to marrying an Indian, bearing his children, and staying with him for at least two years. Then she'll be free to rejoin society and be reunited with her son and daughter, who she hasn't seen since her parents committed her for "promiscuity" after she had two children out of wedlock with the foreman at her father's factory.
May joins a group of outcasts and damaged women, all of whom have their individual reasons for joining the project, part of a promise by President Cleveland to provide a thousand white women to the Indian Nations in exchange for peace between the whites and the Indians. What ensues is part travelogue, part story of awakening as May travels west and joins the Cherokee Nation as a bride.
One Thousand White Women has been roundly criticized for May's "modern voice" (which I didn't see-- she says LOTS of things which would not be considered PC today). What bugged me more than her forward-thinking ways (which I've come to expect in many of these kinds of historical novels) was the way that May overused adjectives and descriptions. If I read once more about her friend, a former slave, was "queenly" or "noble" I might have screamed. The story itself was pretty interesting (if a bit predictable) although it turned on my least favorite convention in fiction writing (anyone remember what that is? The end was sad, although that was to be expected.