Stars: 3 of 5
Letters of a Woman Homesteader is my Read Harder 2019 pick for Task 1. I had thought about Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, which is also an epistolary, but I liked the idea of a true story better. Also, I loved that someone compiled Stewart’s letters into this collection that serves as a kind of memoir of her time.
I listened to the audiobook version, which was narrated by Kate Fleming. I had never really thought about what life as a homesteader would be like, but it sounds quite pleasant. The thing I appreciate about collections of letters like this with their firsthand account is that there’s no guessing. This is what this time was like according to a person who was actually there. Also, I just love to hear about what regular women do in different periods. I used to believe that nonsense that women were just submissive, passive, and bland wives without ambitions or desires or opinions of their own. I should have known better but it took a while to figure it out.
The letters are written to a friend from back home who Stewart keeps up with for a few years. She worries in a few that she sounds like she’s rambling, but I really enjoyed that they were long and told a narrative. I do understand that might be a bit much as a regular letter, but still. It’s also probably part of why they were preserved in the first place. They really do paint an interesting picture that I never would have guessed at of the life of a woman homesteader.
I think my favorite thing about the way she writes is Stewart’s outlook. Life is exciting and full of possibility. She seems like she was a nice woman who helped those around her because she knew that it was all of them together against the environment.
For anyone doing the Read Harder Challenge this year, this was a great book for Task 1. I’m glad I found it. It’s a short book, only about 4 hours of listening time. Click here to add it to Goodreads!