Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America
2 journalers for this copy...
This author really really wanted to write a book. I get so irritated when an author takes one little historical nugget with almost ZERO back story and decides she's going to write a WHOLE book around it. What we get is tons of "life stuff"---most of which is either speculation or unapplicable. At page 66, I stopped to write this first rant. At that point, I was still reading about her garden flowers. If you're going to write a life story, call it a biography and label it accordingly. So far, there's been nothing about "Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America". In fact, we don't actually get to that until page 83. Ugh.
I'm also getting irritated by the assumptions this author is making because she so desperately WANTS Estby to have been a feminist from the very beginning. While she seems to have drummed up some evidence (mostly hearsay from a probable feminist relative) of Helga's views later on, I don't think there's a good case for it in her early years. What better explains her early actions is the fact that she was the only English speaking person in the family for a long time and was, therefore, the only one who could communicate with most of the people around them. She wasn't "taking authority" because she wanted to step out from her husband's protection, she was being the voice of the family to a community that didn't speak their language. Her lifestyle before her walk definitely doesn't match what the real feminists were pushing at that time.
The author liked to make a lot of claims about Helga's political leanings, as well. There were a lot of political rabbit trails to fill space in the book and lots of repetition throughout. Very frustrating. I also thought that if the author was going to include so many randomly researched details she could have enlightened us on things that actually pertained to the journey. For instance, I would have loved to have learned about how they transported water over distances between towns---or did they always drink from streams? What kinds of foods would they have packed along that would sustain them, yet leave their packs less than the eight pounds she mentioned? How would they have dealt with their "time of the month", etc? You know...basics that are a little more relevant than the much repeated info.
I did enjoy reading (briefly) about her time in Walla Walla, Pendleton, and Baker City in Eastern Washington and Oregon, since that's where I'm from.
At first, I could sympathize with her reasons for making the journey. I did my best to be on her side and see it as an act of desperation. However, once I finished the book, my mind had changed. I completely sympathize with her children and the distance they put in between themselves and their mother. In the long run, what good was accomplished here? So much bad had come out of it. To have done all this with no one to guarantee that this was even a legit deal? I guess I didn't realize until the end that there was no one holding the donor accountable. Funny how that little detail was left out until the end. But hey, if it would have been made clearer earlier then we wouldn't really have a story, now would we? I think Estby was extremely stupid and irresponsible if this all took place the way the author makes it appear. What was her husband's take on all this? Why did he let her go? I definitely wouldn't call her courageous. Desperate maybe, but I see no honor in any of this.
Now that I've completely annihilated this book, I'm curious what future readers think of it. I'll be passing it along to a BookCrossing friend who has this on her wishlist.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
To the finder of this book:
This book is gift, no strings attached, from me to you. You may keep it forever, pass it along to a friend, or release it into the wild to be found by someone else.
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I hope you'll make a brief journal entry so all the previous and future readers can track this book's journey.
Thanks, and Happy BookCrossing! :)