- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted September 1, 2010
Helga was a brave woman
The book is a celebration of tenacity and a chronicle of consequences. It is a measure of the time seen through a doorway of the future, and it is a story worth reading. It may also give each of us reason to look again at those old brittle papers we have stored in the attic.
In the spring of 1896, Helga Estby signed a contract that would pay her $10,000 if she walked from Spokane, WA to New York City within a certain period of time. It was not the challenge that motivated her, although Helga enjoyed the independence and exposure to new things encountered along the way. Instead she was moved by the fear that her husband would not recover from this work-related injuries quickly enough to earn the money needed to keep the bank from foreclosing on their farm. She wanted the money to pay off the loans and put toward higher education for their many children.
What Helga and her daughter Clara undertook flew in the face of Victorian values. Women belonged at home, tending children and keeping house. They were perceived as unfit to think for themselves and lacking the physical strength needed for such a venture. Nonetheless, they marched on. Together Helga and Clara faced and overcame many obstacles along their route, fording swollen rivers, teetering across railroad trestles, living in the open without a tent, and defending themselves against occasional ill mannered men. They reached New York on Christmas Eve.
Using the few papers that survived Helga's return to Spokane and the resulting animosity she encountered from her family, and relying heavily on newspaper accounts published in the towns through which the women walked, Hunt has created both a biographic narrative and a history of this country at the turn of the century. Because so few personal writings survive, we don't hear much in Helga's own words but Hunt illuminates feelings and experiences through historical allegories and by quoting news accounts. Hunt concludes the book with a brief analysis of what causes personal histories to be lost, noting that even Helga's grandchildren had little information about the incredible feat accomplished by their grandmother.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2010
A blast of untold history - discovered via a friend's thoughtful gift.
What inspiration for young (and "wizened") readers of both genders.I grew up in Spokane, am of Norwegian descent, and should have been exposed to this treasure long ago.
I especially appreciated the information at the end of the book about the reaearch process involved, and the encouragement for families to "tell their stories". Of course, the challenge is to do so without embellishment or denial!
Such courage and integrity - the telling of this historical journey, with so many levels of inspiration and intelligence.
I plan to read it again, and buy more copies to share.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.