Sunday, July 01, 2012

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Elinore Stewart with her husband and children
You know you are reading a good book when a fiddle is mentioned, and you worry, for one split second, that it might wake the baby.

Okay, so I was exhausted late at night with a newborn, but it still does the writer credit.

The book is "Letters of a Woman Homesteader" by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. It is a collection of her actual letters written from her homestead in Wyoming starting in 1909.  She claims she does not know how to write properly, but she does indeed!

Reading this book was like gaining a new pen-pal from another era.  I started out knowing nothing about Elinore, but I got to know her gradually through her letters.  Writing to an old employer, she doesn't tell all.  If she isn't ready to share something about her private life, she doesn't write about it until later... if ever.   This is not a tell-all novel written by an omniscient narrator.  This is real life; often ugly, hard, and tragic.  Amazingly, her overall mood is upbeat as she overcomes challenges with creativity and hard work.  I was amazed by her ambition, dedication, and humor.  Her stories make my life as a newlywed and mother feel like vacation!

To me, Elinore often does the unexpected.  For example, I never would have guessed that a woman pioneer would set out on a recreational camping trip just because she could.  Heading into the wild with only her small daughter, she shows herself capable of hunting or fishing to provide food along the way.  Her survival skills would beat those of any Boy Scout.

One of the best parts? It is a free Kindle book. Elinore Pruitt Stewart's talent of description makes this both a fun and educational read.

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