Pioneering was especially hard on women. Author Glendon Swarthout wrote this novel to portray what might happen to women on the prairie who suffered from the loss of their mental faculties, due to the extreme hardships many endured.
In the novel, four women must be transported from Nebraska to Iowa, where a charitable organization would help the women go back to their parents or siblings. The man who volunteers for the job is called the Homesman. In this book, the task of getting a volunteer proves difficult and a woman names Mary Bee steps forward. Soon after heading out, she runs across a claim-jumper named Briggs, who has been seated upon his horse with his head in a noose. She frees him with a promise that he will help her take the crazed women to Iowa.
What a book! It is a terrific work of historical fiction, rich in describing pioneer life, and coupled with a page-turning story. After reading it, I’m eager to watch the 2014 movie starring Tommy Lee Jones based on the Swarthout novel.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1988
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