Friday, September 21, 2018

Sobering and Admirable Historical Fiction | Review of Everything She Didn't Say

About the Book (from Revell)

There is more than one way to tell a story . . .

In 1911, Carrie Strahorn wrote a memoir sharing some of the most exciting events of twenty-five years of shaping the American West with her husband, railroad promoter and writer Robert Strahorn. Nearly ten years later, she's finally ready to reveal the secrets she hadn't told anyone—even herself. 

Certain that her writings will be found only after her death, Carrie confronts the pain and disappointment of the pioneering life with startling honesty. She explores the danger a woman faces of losing herself within a relationship with a strong-willed man. She reaches for the courage to accept her own worth. Most of all she wonders, Can she ever feel truly at home in this rootless life?

New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick draws out the emotions of living—the laughter and pain, the love and loss—to give us a window not only into the past but into our own conflicted hearts. Based on a true story.

Available now!

My Rating


My Review

The premise of this book is compelling, to think of what might have been left out of an adventure-filled memoir from the days of the Wild West. And the structure of this book is interesting, each chapter starting with a fictional journal entry, then continuing into scenes or memories told from the heroine's point of view, and ending with a quote from her actual memoir.

A lot of ground—a lot of life and time—is covered in this book. It takes a bit to get used to, and sometimes the narrative flows well and goes deep into a scene, while other times it soars quickly over the months or years. I wouldn't say this is necessarily my favorite way for a story to be told, but the writing and research are far from lacking. And as much as these characters, these people from history, are flawed like we all are, the tale of their travel-filled lives and unfulfilled longings does eventually sweep the reader away.

I imagine such a reality-based story does limit an author... I might have wished for a happier ending or more growth in a certain character. The author includes a long note at the end that answers a lot of questions about what's fictional and what's not, which left me both satisfied and saddened.

Everything She Didn't Say is a different sort of story that brings a woman from the past into relatable light, exploring her marriage, desires, hardships, and resilience. The faith element is definitely there, although it feels like the emphasis tends to rest a little more on Carrie's choices and attitude than the sustaining power of God. While I would say Jane Kirkpatrick's Kinship and Courage series (All Together in One Place, No Eye Can See, What Once We Loved) is more up my alley from what I recall, this is still an intriguing, thought-provoking, sobering, and admirable piece of historical fiction.

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

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