A charming story of a young woman who left Iowa in 1865 for the Colorado Territory as the new wife of a homesteader.  It is built around the idea that a woman  in current times is helping her elderly neighbor lady clean out her home prior to moving to assisted living.  In a trunk, she finds an old diary, hidden in the lid lining. It turns out to be the diary of the grandmother of the elderly neighbor.  The  helpful neighbor types it out so the fading writing can be read and the brittle paper can be preserved.

It is a lovely story, but it is a basic chic lit theme.  The young husband has been courting another gal for years, and suddenly, asks Mattie to wed, and a month later, they are on their way.  Of course, she learns that he only asked her because the other chick was too smart to agree to go live in a soddy on the prairie with all the hardships involved.

It is filled with details of life on the trail and then on the plains, with nary a tree in sight, daily life including the hardships of childbirth in remote areas.  The characters are finely drawn, and Mattie herself makes us modern day lasses ashamed of our wimpy, self-indulgent ways when we compare our lives of indoor plumbing and one-touch pizza delivery to her daily grind.

It is curious;  it is not a new plot — I’ve read it hundreds of times; it’s not the setting of mid-19th century America, the trek west and frontier life — Jessamyn West probably has the corner on that;  it isn’t that s.o.b. cheating husband – that trope  fairly litters chic lit;  and that diary style narrative – getting old and rusty.  But all together, it was a wonderful read and I loved it.

This is an accomplished author who has written a number of books.  I think I might look around and see what else I can find of hers for those times when a chic-lit kind of story is just the ticket.


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