A winning overlap of Christian, historical and women’s fiction. Peterson addresses, if not exactly capturing, the major attitudes and conflicts of the 1860s, projecting them onto the frontier as people leave a war-ravaged East taking their prejudices and shortcomings with them. Most historical references are true to the period, where many supposed western tales stumble into Hollywood cliches.
Because the main character is a young woman, the trials and tragedies recorded are not those usually chronicled in wagon train and frontier sagas, but those of a protected young woman dealing with lose and the unknown. Despite an opening catastrophe, starting west seems easy, but it’s not. Dianne Chadwick’s hopes turn to despairs but she presses on. She must.
Too many characters exhibit a thoroughly 21st century understanding of religion—both pro and con–but 19th century attitudes would not resonant with modern readers, in fact might seem incomprehensible.