A light in the Wilderness is based on a true story. I loved how Jane Kirkpatrick portrayed Letitia in this book. Letitia was a fascinating and strong woman who endured so much in her lifetime. I love reading the fictional account of her life and appreciated it even more when I read the author's note. She really did her research.
I highly recommend this book. A great historical and I look forward to more by this author.
Jane Kirkpatrick is a phenomenal writer to pen such fiction from truth into a beautiful work of art. This truth is stranger than fiction novel takes place during the 1800s, following a harrowing wagon train venture from Missouri to Oregon. A personal note here I am well acquainted with the areas of Oregon Ms. Kirkpatrick wrote about, which brought visual enjoyment during my reading.
Letitia is a strong black woman, full of wisdom and dreams. Her dream of freedom from the buckles of slavery is ongoing, even though she received her papers of freedom in Kentucky. Frankly, prejudice against the color of ones skin is abhorrent to me Ive never understood slavery. Letitia will not be stopped! The reader will discover immediately that this courageous young woman turns the other cheek to adversity and faces life with everything within her.
Recently, I read in an interview with Jane Kirkpatrick that the wedding scene between Letitia (Tish) and Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant, had to be discreet and meaningful considering they were breaking the law. The wedding was sweet and joyful, even a bit of humorous relief when a Jewish peddler happened upon the scene, including stomping on the glass as is done in Jewish weddings. This is one of my favorite scenes. Davey was kind to Tish, although he was of a male mind of that time period. Soon after, a thorn begins in Tishs side when Daveys grown son appears in the picture, jealous, hateful, and prejudiced. He does not stick around long when he decides to take another route to Oregon. Another constant thorn in her side is Greenberry Smith, mean spirited and murderous, intent on making Tishs life miserable. Tish wants Davey to draw up a paper willing his property to her and her children should he become deceased. He is reluctant because he does not know how to read and write, a fact he keeps to himself. He finally comes up with something that appeases Tish for the time being.
Among the characters is the dearly loved milking cow Charity that Tish owns, in whom she can safely confide, and does so many times. Tish is pregnant when the trek to Oregon begins. She is mid-wife to many, but alone when her baby daughter Martha is born. The children love her as she entertains them with great stories. Her closest friend is Nancy Hawkins, a quilter who treasures the loom made for her by her husband. The determination and inner strength of the women on the wagon train amazes meI can scarcely comprehend their depth.
It is difficult to be succinct about this beautiful story. One of the impractical events that occurred was when Davey inadvertently lost Tishs freedom papers and his document. Tish had hidden them in a flour barrel that Davey exchanged for a full barrel. But Tish was to find out within time that the document Davey made up was of no value which she felt a betrayal on his part.
Finally, Tish made it to Oregon City alone. Davey met her there after helping with other matters regarding the wagon train. Davey did not stay around much, as he got gold rush fever and headed to California several times. Settling in Oregon reveals much more Tish found joy in meeting a Kalapuya Indian woman named Betsy and her grandson. Davey and Tish had a baby son, Adam born around 1853. Davey, Jr. enters the picture again in Oregon, causing her frustration. Hardship is a daily word, but Letitias trust and faith in God were chiefly imperative to getting through each day. Letitias valor brought her through a lawsuit with a white man over her property. She was known as one of the first free black slaves to enter Oregon. I enjoyed Ms. Kirkpatricks novel because of the history and culture of the 1800s. This free child of God is definitely the Light in the Wilderness.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Enriches our lives with lessons as valuable now as they were back then
September 23, 2014
Have you read any of Jane Kirkpatrick's books? If not, it's a must! Based on historical facts, this book takes place in the early 1800's and involves a wagon train from Missouri to Oregon, where they settle. Letitia is a woman of color who has been freed. But that doesn't mean her life is easy - no, not at all. She connects with Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant who has been kind to her. They secretly get married, even though it is forbidden, and travel together to a new life.
Being free doesn't make Letitia equal. Being a woman doesn't either. As the author says, safety is a state of mind, a matter of faith. Typical of Jane's books, this story is about a woman who is strong and courageous, living and surviving with God's love, sharing that light with others around her. Oregon's laws are off again, on again regarding slavery, citizenship and basic rights for people of color. Few people accept Letitia, but the few that do are tightly bound with her. Constant uncertainty, difficult and trying situations face Letitia all through the story, but she continues to grow and improve others lives as well. With and without a man's help. This story enriches our lives with lessons as valuable now as they were back then.
I was given this book in return for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.
I always look forward to Jane's books, and have been following her for years. I know that when I read one of her stories, I will be going on an adventure of some kind. I have come to respect and admire her attention to detail, her love for the history of a story and her extensive research. All that she does to flesh out the bones of a story make her books believable, historically accurate and emotionally compelling.
Letitia Carson's story is one of courage. I love how Jane gives voice to Letitia's fears and failings as well as her strength of character and stamina. I cannot imagine being as brave as Letitia, and as embracing of hardship.
Also central to the story is the injustice done to "minorities", and Letitia fell into that category in many ways, being black, a former slave, and a woman. Jane's strong respect for Native Americans is present here as well, and I rejoiced over the friendship between Letitia and Betsy.
As always, I highly recommend this book and will be passing my copy on to all my friends. I look forward to Jane's next story, and I wonder where she will take me then.
Letitia's story needed to be told and Jane Kirkpatrick is the one to tell it. I've read enough of Jane's novels to know that readers can trust her to create an accurate story through meticulous research, and turn it into a compelling read through the eyes of fiction. Letitia's story is one of courage and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, faith in God, and a most satisfying triumphant ending.
"She had imagined the day she would escape; it would be high noon when people least expected them to run, when the dogs lay panting in the Kentucky sun and the patrols rested, not seeking a colored woman making her way to freedom."
The first sentence captures the heart of Letitia. A Light in the Wilderness is the moving and poignant story of Letitia Carson, a little-known African-American pioneer - one of the first black women to cross the Oregon Trail in 1845, giving birth along the way. Characterization is strong and the setting is vividly conveyed, but I think the story's main strength is that Letitia is a character to which everyone can relate. It was easy to connect with what she was feeling, seeing, and experiencing - from her desire to be recognized as free to her need to be treated as a partner and a person of worth. I loved her thoughts about the wisdom of relocating: "She wasn't sure what drew people from their homelands to the unknown, what certainty they felt compelled to set aside for the imaginations of a future believed to be somehow in a 'better place.' There could be no better place than where one was . . ."
Letitia was free, yet treated as a slave; married, but not in the eyes of the law. It's always hard to read about man's cruelty to certain races or classes of people, and that is vividly pictured in this novel. Every time I see the word "exclusion" from now on, it will bring Letitia's story to mind. And I can't help but wonder, have we really come all that far today?
I enjoyed the Author's Note section at the end, and wanted to share Jane's words concerning the personal impact of A Light in the Wilderness: "I discovered the nature of freedom in the midst of chains and the strength of character it takes to persevere through the bondage of the spirit and the law. Safety is a state of mind, a matter of faith."
I enjoyed A Light in the Wilderness and recommend it to all who enjoy well-crafted historical fiction.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.