Westering Women

Written by Sandra Dallas
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

When Maggie sees the poster in Chicago in 1852, advertising for eligible women seeking to travel west, she considers it a plausible escape route for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Clara. But fear takes hold of Maggie. She has a dark secret that no one can know; what if her past catches up to her on the journey? Using a fake last name, Maggie signs herself and Clara up for the expedition. Two ministers interview her, and she becomes acutely aware that most of the other forty-two women who have been accepted are going with the hopes of finding a husband.

Always looking over her shoulder, Maggie finally finds comfort in the incomparable friendship of the band of women who bond together on the 2,000-mile journey. They are on the infamous Overland Trail to California. The women become strong together in the face of unforeseen adversities and the fate of the past intruding upon their hoped-for new lives. Each of the women has experienced heartbreak before and will do so again when unexpected tragedies strike the group. Only their bond of sisterhood helps them to pick up the pieces and carry on.

I found myself cheering for these women, even when I realized that not all of them would survive the journey. The plot moves quickly, like the adventure itself. Characters are well developed, and descriptions of the American West help the reader to visualize the scenery along the trail. My only regret was that I could too easily predict that Maggie’s past would find her once more.