A mother's tragedy, a daughter's desire and the 7000 mile journey that changed their lives.
In 1896 Norwegian American Helga Estby accepted a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City within seven months in an effort to earn $10,000. Bringing along her nineteen year-old daughter Clara, the two made their way on the 3500-mile trek by following the railroad tracks and motivated by the money they needed to save the family farm. After returning home to the Estby farm more than a year later, Clara chose to walk on alone by leaving the family and changing her name. Her decisions initiated a more than 20-year separation from the only life she had known.
Historical fiction writer Jane Kirkpatrick picks up where the fact of the Estbys’ walk leaves off to explore Clara's continued journey. What motivated Clara to take such a risk in an era when many women struggled with the issues of rights and independence? And what personal revelations brought Clara to the end of her lonely road? The Daughter's Walk weaves personal history and fiction together to invite readers to consider their own journeys and family separations, to help determine what exile and forgiveness are truly about.
A mother and her daughter walk across America in this historical novel set in 1896. Clara and Helga Etsby hope to save their family farm from foreclosure with a $10,000 prize if they complete the journey. Jane Kirkpatrick imagines the Etsby women, their journey, and its repercussions in The Daughter’s Walk.
Prolific historical fiction author Jane Kirkpatrick has a passion for history and it shows in this novel. It is evident that the Etsby ladies’ walk captured her imagination and led to research of a little known but interesting event in American history. Lovers of women’s history and historical fiction will enjoy the details and figures with which Kirkpatrick colors the novel. Though set in 1896 and framed with the mores of the time, the universal truths of family, identity, desires, and consequences still resonate. The first half of the novel is the strongest with fast pacing, family secret revelations, and discussions of women’s suffrage. The novel loses energy in the second half as the protagonist, Clara, flounders in her life. The final act pulls together the book’s strongest elements of character relationships and historical context and The Daughter’s Walk ends strongly.
Veteran narrator Kimberly Farr has tackled everything from an Audrey Hepburn biography to a Nora Roberts novel to self-help books, and her versatility continues here. She admirably handles the Norwegian-American accents and makes the several female characters distinct. Occasionally, Farr borders on the melodramatic in her performance and an understated narration would have been a better fit for an already dramatic story. Farr’s strength is in the characters’ individual and heartfelt voices that make listeners become invested in the characters, flaws and all.
Women’s history and historical fiction fans will enjoy this fascinating story. It’s also a great choice for book clubs. Jane Kirkpatrick and narrator Kimberly Farr combine for an imperfect but absorbing listen. Julie MacDonald
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Wonderful historic story that should be known!
- Kindle Customer