This week our guest author for the 52 Books Challenge is Linore Rose Burkard. Linore writes one of my favorite genres–historical. I especially love the lesser-explored time periods. Linore is breaking away from the traditional author post. She’s going to talk a bit about another author and her book, set in 1913 Wyoming. Yes, while Europe was setting the stage for WWI, things were happening in the American west as well. Now let’s hear from Linore.
Meet A Woman Homesteader
Guest Post by Linore Rose Burkard
As an historical novelist, it will surprise no one that I enjoy reading about the past, but it surprises ME when I find a book that is both good reading and good history. Many of you may be already familiar with what I just discovered, but when Ron invited me to guest blog, instead of highlighting my own novels (which are English Regency romances), I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts about Letters From A Woman Homesteader, by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. This book is a treasure, and such a delight that I am delighted to share it with you. (Furthermore, its Kindle edition is free.)
The book is set in 1913 Wyoming, but one might think it is even earlier in history as this area of the United States, with its mountainous bluffs, buttes, snow and desert, wasn’t easily conquered by settlers. As the title indicates, the book is a series of letters but its beauty is the unpretentiousness of the author. Ms. Stewart never wrote her letters with publication in mind, but only for the enjoyment of a dear friend. Nevertheless, she writes with a keen eye for detail, a quick memory andflawless sense of progression so that each of her letters is a mini story in itself. And such stories! This was one intrepid soul! She brings the landscape and its inhabitants to life as neatly as a seamstress setting a stitch into fabric. It takes seemingly no effort for her, and the rewards for us today are honest accounts of brave lives we have forgotten, if we ever knew, that people lived in our country. We meet immigrants with their accents intact, mountain recluses, hunters, trappers, cowboys and sheepherders. And yet, nothing is wonderful here; it is simply the homesteading life. Furthermore, even with its hardships and losses (and there is loss), Ms. Stewarts’ account is never anything but joyful, eager and full of life and gratitude. She mentions her losses without a shred of self pity, and moves on.
I enjoyed the way the many chores of life are mentioned or detailed; with cheerful precision, giving us a glimpse of the toil, but especially the rewards of homesteading. Much of the daily maintenance of life on any homestead has been largely lost to today’s technological society; this book reminds us of the way people used to live, and not only survive, but thrive, even in a rugged land. Of course, what one person may have considered hardship was merely an honest day’s work for Elinore Pruitt and she considers that it is worth every bit of the freedom and independence she achieves for herself, even as a married woman.Elinore takes such joy in her living, yes, even in her work, that we are chastised for our comparative complacency—indeed, she makes us feel we have lost so much.
The tales of homesteaders are fascinating to me on a number of levels, but with today’s emphasis upon returning to self-sustainability, Ms. Stewart’s accounts take on educational importance, and as such are doubly engrossing. The fact that her style is easy and to the point, and that she weaves in her love for the beauty of her surroundings is merely more refreshment for the reader. There is no doubt that this is a woman whose company would be a delight—as is her book. Whether you read it for its history or simply because it is a glimpse of a life well lived, you will enjoy this little treasure.