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Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West | [Dorothy Wickenden]

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (65 )
5 star
 (12)
4 star
 (19)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
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Overall
3.4 (47 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.4 (45 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Sara USA 08-10-14
    Sara USA 08-10-14 Member Since 2008

    I love reading reviews. No plot spoilers please. These are not book reports!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1028
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    "Not as Described"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer NEW SWEDEN, ME, United States 07-02-12
    Jennifer NEW SWEDEN, ME, United States 07-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Boring"
    What would have made Nothing Daunted better?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Dorothy Wickenden again?

    Probably not.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MESA, AZ, United States 01-02-12
    Amazon Customer MESA, AZ, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    50
    12
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    "Interesting but not Great"
    What did you like best about Nothing Daunted? What did you like least?

    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.


    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy R. Beiter Washington DC 04-28-13
    Nancy R. Beiter Washington DC 04-28-13 Member Since 2009

    Swimmernan

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not the story you expect"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator seems to pause at the end of every line as she reads and has little inflection


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Ipswich, MA, United States 05-28-12
    Teresa Ipswich, MA, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Hard to follow"
    Would you try another book from Dorothy Wickenden and/or Dorothy Wickenden and Margaret Nichols ?

    It would very much depend on the subject


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melody Chilliwack, BC, Canada 01-02-12
    Melody Chilliwack, BC, Canada 01-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well researched, narration ulitmate bore"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The uniqueness of Dorothy and Rosamund's experiences.


    How could the performance have been better?

    A diffferent narrator.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Not in documentary form, unfortunately too dry in presentation.


    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charnley Naples, FL, United States 05-21-12
    Charnley Naples, FL, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You might like this"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cityreader Chicago, IL 09-07-11
    cityreader Chicago, IL 09-07-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a good read"

    so I have a soft spot for Laura Ingalls and all the women who made it out west without the benefit of an airplane and an iphone, so picked this one up as easy summer read. impressed by how well researched and unexpected the story turned out, and I enjoyed the reading.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Hillman Boise, Idaho 04-30-12
    Michael Hillman Boise, Idaho 04-30-12 Member Since 2011

    Michael Hillman

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    "I'm a U.S. History junkie, so I love these kind of"

    A great glimpse into life on the rapidly growing Colorado frontier 100 years ago. These two young women had a huge impact on the lives of their students forever.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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