This is the story of Abby, who is recently widowed and determined to finish her husband’s dream of starting a new life in the Wallamet (now spelled Willamette) valley. The story follows her through her journey to Independence, getting her wagon purchased and stocked, hiring the fur trapping mountain man Jacob to man her rig and off on the trail to Oregon. This is not a page turning, racy sit on the edge of your seat type of book. This follows every bit of day to day business, from how they made their food, hunted, crossed the rivers, and kept not only themselves but their livestock alive.
The trail follows the western plains, over the Rockies, through Idaho into Oregon’s Blue Mountains and finally through the Columbia River Gorge on the way to the end of the trail at Oregon City. Although I mentioned some might not find this a racy page turner, I was thoroughly fascinated and had a hard time putting the book down. The historical detail, even of the day to day part of living on the trail was fascinating — the buffalo stampede was just heart stopping.
All in all a very good tale of a courageous woman with “sand” as Jacob called her, able to live up to and exceed the challenges of the Oregon Trail to reach her destination and achieve her dreams of a new life in Oregon City. I especially enjoyed the last of the tale, as Abby sees the Columbia River for the first time and her reaction to the beauty of that river. I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest and have traveled many times along that glorious river, and the author brought all of it magically to life — the rapids (which are long gone due to dams), the basalt cliffs, the waterfalls, Beacon Rock are all there for the reader to experience along with Abby.
This was a first rate book and I highly recommend for any lover of historical fiction or for one interested in the Oregon Trail. It looks like the prices on this are a bit high at the moment – don’t forget to check the library.