Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Thousand White Women (Book 5 of 100)

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus is yet another on my list of books that I would actually read under normal circumstances, but I'm trying to broaden my reading tastes in my effort to read 100 books in 2010. After deciding to broaden my reading horizons, for this book especially, I've come to the conclusion that the notebook based rantings of 18th century women are not somewhere typically that my horizons need to encompass.

This is basically the story of a young lady who gets kidnapped and sent to an insane asylum because she likes sex and she has it and two children with a man her family considers unworthy. I always knew those sort of institutions were horrible. We think institutions today are bad but they were nothing like the ones that existed back then. At least today you have some hope of getting out eventually. Back then, however, there was no ombudsman person as there is today. Even though they may or may not care about their job of protecting the patients, at least there is some hope and recourse if you are wronged. It comes as no surprise to me that Miss May Dodd decided, upon given the option, to check herself out of the institution and opt to marry a Native American man. 1,000 white women were promised to be brides of the Cheyenne tribe in exchange for 1,000 horses. That struck me as creepy too. The goal was to make the children of such marriages to be considered as white people because the Native Americans are matriarchal. Given the choice of situations, I might well have decided to marry someone I didn't know too.

Miss Dodd has all manner of adventures in the western territories. But, as is typical of people who later published journals, she doesn't have a good editor's voice. The book was twelve disks long (I read it via audio book). It could have done with about six. In fact, the book doesn't really start picking up until the end of the sixth CD except for a little preface in the beginning which is necessary so that we know how she came to be in this situation. Most of that material is not needed.

The second half of the book, however, is very exciting and horrifying at once. However, the ending leaves much to be desired, and I'm not saying this just because it didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to. It made not sense whatsoever. Are you the kind of writer who reads books and says, "How are they getting published when I'm not?" I am and the end of this book instilled just that feeling in me.

I would say to get this book on audio (because I feel like if you got in regular print you'd go insane flipping through all the dribble). On audio book you can skip the six unnecessary disks and pick up the story with full understanding on disk six. I would rate this book a six and that's only because the second half of it made up (to a degree) for the absolute trash that was the first half. No wonder men of the 18th century said women shouldn't vote. They tended to prattle on so. one would scarcely fault the men for assuming that if they voted we would never make any decisions as a nation. This book is particularly interesting to people who are interested in memoirs or historical fiction (I'm still not clear about whether this book is historical fiction, non-fiction, or a mix of both). It is also of interest to anyone who likes women's history. I typically fall into that category but this book just didn't do it for me. Read it and see what you think. I await your comments. I also don't recommend reading this book at night by yourself because at parts it's extremely frightening and may cause nightmares.

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