In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, close friends from childhood and graduates of Smith College, left home in Auburn, New York, for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Bored by their soci-ety luncheons, charity work, and the effete young men who courted them, they learned that two teach-ing jobs were available in a remote mountaintop schoolhouse and applied—shocking their families and friends. “No young lady in our town,” Dorothy later commented, “had ever been hired by anybody.”
They took the new railroad over the Continental Divide and made their way by spring wagon to the tiny settlement of Elkhead, where they lived with a family of homesteaders. They rode several miles to school each day on horseback, sometimes in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied on barrel staves, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The man who had lured them out west was Ferry Carpenter, a witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher. He had promised them the adventure of a lifetime and the most modern schoolhouse in Routt County; he hadn’t let on that the teachers would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.
That year transformed the children, their families, and the undaunted teachers themselves. Dorothy and Rosamond learned how to handle unruly children who had never heard the Pledge of Allegiance and thought Ferry Carpenter was the president of the United States; they adeptly deflected the amorous advances of hopeful cowboys; and they saw one of their closest friends violently kidnapped by two coal miners. Carpenter’s marital scheme turned out to be more successful than even he had hoped and had a surprising twist some forty years later.
©2011 Dorothy Wickenden (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"From the elite ethos of Smith College to the raw frontier of northwestern Colorado, two friends dared to defy the conventions of their time and station. Dorothy Wickenden tells their extraordinary story with grace and insight, transporting us back to an America suffused with a sense of adventure and of possibility. This is a wonderful book about two formidable women, the lives they led--and the legacy they left." (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion)
"In Nothing Daunted, Dorothy Wickenden has beautifully captured a world in transition, a pivotal chapter not just in the life of her bold and spirited grandmother, but also in the life of the American west. Dorothy Woodruff and her friend Rosamond are like young women who walked out of a Henry James novel and headed west instead of east. Imagine Isabel Archer wrangling the ragged, half-wild children of homesteaders, whirling through dances with hopeful cowboys, and strapping on snowshoes in the middle of the night to urge a fallen horse onto an invisible trail in high snowdrifts, and you’ll have some idea of the intense charm and adventure of this remarkable book.” (Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It)
"A superb, stirring book. Through the eyes of two spirited and resourceful women from the civilized East, Wickenden makes the story of the American West engaging and personal. A delight to read.” (Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief)
I don't review every book--only books I feel strongly about--hence the many 4-5 star vs 1-2 star reviews. Just my opinions--hope they help.
This book was supposed to be an adventure about two women breaking the mold and setting out to do something out of the ordinary. That it not what it is. Instead it is a partial history of the Rockies and a spotty story about the settlement of the west. While I love history that it not what I was buying when I chose this book. I wonder if the people who write the publisher's review have even read the book? The narration was deadly and overly plodding and ruined the story for me. Really disappointing. Can not recommend this boring book.
As a teacher myself I thought it would be very interesting to read about these two women in the west teaching. The author didn't give enough depth to the characters or the actual "teaching" part. She put way too many history facts and that really lost my attention.
Someone who likes a 8hr onslaught of dry facts and lists that barely tell a tale.
For the time being.
She read it with enthusiasium. I don't think I would of finished this chore without her performance.
So happy to be done with it.
I expected this to be a book about the two main characters, school teachers in remote Colorado in 1916-17, as told in their letters home. Instead it was a history of Colorado (railroad, Denver, education system, etc.) at the turn of the century, with the eastern women as characters in the overall drama of the development of the west. It was interesting and informative as a history of Colorado. I probably would have liked it better had I expected that. Very few quotations from the actual letters were included, which frustrated me. I give the book a moderate rating as an interesting story. The two main characters were strong women and worthy of reading about.
I tried so hard to like this book. While there were several incidents cited that were interesting, the story jumped back in time - sideways - diagonally - forward - sideways and back again so much, that there was little cohesive flow. This book is a treasure to the author and her su hurts descendants, to be sure. More time was spent on descriptive detail of various other people throughout than the two "main characters" that the story was supposed to be about. If you really, really still want to read this book, understand that you have to get more than halfway through before you even get to know anything about the characters experiences in the west.
I loved this story, because it showed the impact our lives have upon others. It is a good sampling of what it was like to live in that time in that place. Never lurid, it has an appropriately respectful tone about the authoress' grandmother and her best friend. They lead ordinary lives, perhaps, but there are wonders to be found in each life and this one is well researched and detailed. Thanks to the authoress.
This book would be a better read than it is a listen, especially with this poor narrator who sounds more like a computer than a person.
The narrator seems to pause at the end of every line as she reads and has little inflection
The story is a good one, although it jumps from place to place in the initial chapters before the young women eventually find themselves in Colorado. What is unexpected is the detailed descriptions of historical events during the period which give the story a depth that most such stories lack.
It would very much depend on the subject
You have to be very interested in the information in order to finish listening to it. I often lost track of names mentioned in the story. Based on letters, which is fine as long as you know that going in.
I purchased this audiobook months ago after being drawn to it at the local bookstore. Though well researched and documented, the ultimate mistake is having the author do the narration. I have left and returned to it numerous times, and am unable to finish it. The narration is colorless, without inflection or interest. Unfortunate as it could have been much more interesting. I keep thinking of the other narrators that call me back time and time again, no matter how well I know the story - not wasting the time struggling to stay awake through any more of this one.
The uniqueness of Dorothy and Rosamund's experiences.
A diffferent narrator.
Not in documentary form, unfortunately too dry in presentation.
I enjoyed this book very much because I was interested in 3 things: Smith College because it is my Alma Mater, Colorado history because I spend time in Fort Collins, and the city of Auburn because my relatives live in that area. Without an interest in those 3 things, the story might not hold the interest of a reader. The narrator has an irritating habit of pausing before reading something that I assume is in quotation marks in the printed book.
But aside from those reservations, let me say that it is a terrific story of two courageous women and the people of the Colorado rockies.
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