According to author Sandra Dallas, she wanted to show that the courageous women who settled the American West were not the one-dimensional characters portrayed in 1950s Hollywood sagebrush movies. Her book accomplishes this in spades. The women between these pages take a chance on a new life for many reasons – to start anew, to embrace adventure, to find love, and to escape their current situation.
The long, long arduous journey to California tests the mettle of every single woman in the story. They find hidden reserves of inner strength, and grow and blossom beyond the borders of crippling social etiquette. More than anything, the journey empowers them to make choices that would never have been within their grasp. The women who heed the call of adventure and agree to embark on a perilous journey that will end in California’s gold mining camps are from every walk of life. Despite their social status, hideous past, youth or foolishness, they will become sisters honed by hardship.
Many of the characters, including the primary narrator, Maggie, are fleeing violence, brutality and untenable living situations. Some women, like Mary, are seeking adventure and acceptance they could not find at home. Some women, like Sadie and Dora want new beginnings.
This was a wonderful story about the solidarity of womanhood, strength in the face of adversity, and hope that springs from terrible loss.