Monday, October 19, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 69

Did I tell you I joined a book club? I did. Aside from the social aspects of being in a group of women, drinking booze and eating party snacks, I like the book club because I don't have to pick ALL the books I'm reading this year. No, I can let someone else pick a book from time to time.

Which leads me to One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. Here's the basic premise: an Indian asks President Grant for one thousand white women (hence the title) in exchange for one thousand horses - and Grant agrees. Ladies looking for a way out of their current bad situation are given the opportunity to join the group traveling to the Indians as the first wave of the trade. Enter May Dodd, formerly locked away in a mental asylum due to her promiscuity. May signs on to travel to Indian Territory, and befriends some outrageous characters along the way. There's Daisy, the scorned Southern belle; Gretchen, the homely, burly Swiss; Susie and Meggie, the swindling Irish twins; Sara, young, lovely and mute; and Phemie, the escaped slave (so not exactly a "white" woman, but you get the idea). These ladies travel by train, then by wagon, out to Indian Territory, where they meet their future husbands and fathers of their children. May is paired with Little Wolf, Sweet Medicine Chief of the tribe, and her life carries on with equal measures of joy and hardship. But maybe May is promiscuous. Did I mention John Bourke, the rugged Army captain May meets at Fort Laramie, on the way out west. May and Bourke have one steamy night that May must revisit only in memory; she grows to love Little Wolf, but her heart often returns to her time with Bourke.

I've gotten carried away. You don't want to know everything, do you? Of course not. You want to read the book. Maybe. It's not a classic, it won't stick with you for weeks on end, but as far as "fluffy" books go, it's solid. Fergus has written some great characters, particulary the supporting characters. May's fellow white women, as well as Little Wolf's other wives, are well thought-out and often quite funny. It did get tedious at times - weather, tipis, peeing outside, etc. I think I'm done with alternative history for a while. But if you're looking for a book for your book club (or reading group, which sounds more illustrious), this is a good pick.

One Thousand White Women - B

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