Monday, June 13, 2011

THE DAUGHTER'S WALK, by Jane Kirkpatrick

As soon as I knew Jane Kirkpatrick had written The Daughter’s Walk, I put it on my to-read list. When I read Linda Lawrence Hunt's nonfiction history of this amazing journey, titled Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America, I felt the story cried out to be fictionalized. Kirkpatrick was just the author to accomplish the task.
In 1896, Helga Estby accepted a wager from a group of people connected with the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City within seven months. Helga wanted the money offered in order to save her family's farm from foreclosure.
She took her eighteen-year-old daughter, Clara, with her. The sponsors of the walk were promoting a new style of garment, called a reform dress. The women were to wear this shorter, uncorseted dress, with leggings, for the duration of their walk in order to generate publicity for the radical fashion.
But what of the daughter? This journey was not Clara Estby's idea, nor was she an entirely willing participant. Kirkpatrick spins The Daughter’s Walk from Clara's point of view, and in so doing gives the reader a full description of everything the women encountered along their sometimes treacherous journey.
Set in a time when women were just beginning to stir from the constraints of Victorian mores, The Daughter’s Walk also provides a look at a period that's thankfully in the past. Fans of historical fiction with a strong basis in fact will thoroughly enjoy The Daughter’s Walk.


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