The Daughter’s Walk, by Jane Kirkpatrick, is the fascinating account of Clara Estby, and her mother Helga, who accepted a $10,000 wager to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City in 7 months. The most interesting thing about the story is that it is the fictional recounting of an actual, historical event. Clara and her mother are real people who lived and traversed 3,500 miles across the country, on foot, in a valiant effort to save their family’s farm.
The book itself is as very interesting read; however, as is the way with historical novels, it leaves the reader wanting because it does not tie up neatly, nor does everyone in the novel come to a happy end. The novel is divided into three parts, the first recounting the walk by Clara and her mother, and the last two detailing the next 39 years of Clara’s life. The novel deals deftly with the complexities of love, honor, faith, and family and each character deals with these concepts in a different way. As you walk with Clara, you live life from her perspective, cheering her on, weeping with her, and rejoicing when she triumphs. Though her story is mostly conjecture, Kirkpatrick does a beautiful job describing the characters and their trials as they confront fear and tragedy and she bridges the gaps that history does not clearly fill in for us.
Though it has not become one of my favorite reads, I am glad that I picked up this novel and would recommend it to others who enjoy the genre of historical fiction. One aspect of the novel that bothered me somewhat was that it did not seem to be fully edited. There were several places that contained errors or typos and there is one rather large plot point that I must assume was misprinted as it does not make sense. Overall, the novel is worth reading and will provide a few hours of bittersweet entertainment.
*I received this novel for review by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing*
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