Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Letters of a Woman Homesetter

If you think your life is hard, pick up this book. Or listen to the Play-Away.

I love, love, love! the perspective on life I get from reading (or listening) to different books. This past weekend I drove lots and lots of hours, some of them with my ten-year-old son, so I wanted to choose something that would interest both of us. I picked up a Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who book on CD, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. But the highlight of the trip was Letters of a Woman Homesteader.

I found Letters of a Woman Homesteader in the Play-Away section of my library's audio book section. Play-Aways are self-contained digital books that you can listen to on headphones, or plug into an auxiliary jack in your stereo. My husband had the foresight to purchase a car stereo unit with an auxiliary jack, so Nathaniel and I listened to the Play-Away in the van.

Aside from my few frustrations in operating the Play-Away while I was driving (thankfully no accidents resulted), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, I think I'll check out the book so I can actually read it and soak in the nuances I missed while listening.

The book is actual letters from Elinore Pruitt Stewart to her former employer in Denver. Elinore is a self-proclaimed talker, but has few visitors on the frontier. So, instead of talking, she writes long letters to Mrs. Coney, which Mrs. Coney was smart enough to keep, and arrange to be published.

It sounds a little dry - reading letters from the early 1900s. But Elinore, despite her limited schooling, has a natural way with words and describing life on the frontier. I especially loved her descriptions of her "jaunts" to explore the wilderness, with her daughter (and eventually, sons) in tow. And today we don't like to take children to the grocery store!

Elinore is so cheerful and happy, focusing on her blessings and exclaiming over all the wonderful people who come across her path and all the good things that happen to her. I couldn't help but smile while listening to her letters. After reading the short biography on the back of the Play-Away box, I know that her life was not easy and full of her share of sorrows - orphaned, widowed and lost an infant.

I wish I could have known Elinore personally - she seems like a gem of a woman with a great sense of humor. I love what she said to the man in the office when she went to register her homestead. Guess you'd better read the book to find out!

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