Hattie Inez Brooks is an orphan who has been shuttled from relative to relative until, at the age of 16, she learns she has inherited her Uncle Chester's homestead claim in Montana. The year is 1917 and Hattie, tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, sets off from Iowa to make a home for herself.
Her inheritance consists of a one-room shack, a barn, half a chicken coop and 320 acres of land that need to be fenced. Forty acres must be planted with wheat and flax before she can actually own the claim. She has nine months to 'prove up' the homestead.
Hattie Big Sky is a great story by Kirby Larson of a young woman's work and determination to make a go of this hardscrabble life. She braves blizzards, bullies, blisters, and helps birth a baby. There are disease, devastation, disappointment, and a stubborn milk cow to contend with. But through it all, Hattie learns self-reliance, the importance of loyal friendship between isolated homesteaders, and best of all, she finally learns to make bread that isn't heavy as an iron skillet.
Some of her experiences are told through letters to her friend Charlie, a soldier serving in France during World War I. She also shares tales of her hardships and happy times in newspaper articles that are published in the paper back in Iowa.
I really liked Hattie. I was in awe of her strength, good sense, and sticktoittiveness. Reading about her life made me grateful for my own indoor bathroom, running water, and washing machine. I have no outdoor 'necessary', no well to pump, and no water to boil on a wood stove to fill the wash tub. I don't have to milk a cow every morning or spend hot days clearing rocks out of a field or chase wolves off my property.
From Hattie, I learned a lot about what early settlers in America's West had to deal with. And, most of all, I learned I probably wouldn't have made a very good pioneer woman.
This book sounded good, so I read it, too. And I liked all the homesteading aspects of it, I just didn't find the ending all that satisfying. Did you like the ending? Or just think it was okay?ReplyDelete
Based on other information I have read about the homesteaders, I thought it was pretty realistic. And there is a second book, 'Hattie Ever After', so we find out what happens next. I knew there was a sequel so maybe it was easier for me to accept the ending.Delete
That does make a difference. I'll have to look for Hattie Ever After. Thanks!Delete
I like pioneer/homesteading stories so am sure I'd like this one. The early years of my life - until I was 10 or 11, we had no electricity, no running water and cooked/heated with wood. My mother raised nine children under these circumstances. I can't imagine. All the neighbors lived the same way though. Pioneers had even more challenges. I'm glad I live in this day and age; I so appreciate all our modern conveniences!ReplyDelete
Joyce in KS
Good grief, Joyce. I cannot imagine raising nine kids with no washing machine! What an ordeal, but like you say, everyone was living the same way so I guess it didn't seem strange...just backbreaking!Delete
Actually my mother had a washing machine with a gasoline engine so it wasn't quite like taking clothes down to the creek to wash them. It set out on the back porch (not closed in) and I can't remember her heating water on the stove but she must have and then had a couple rinse tubs which were filled with cold water. We were lucky to have the best well in the area (though later a cousin seemed to think the water is what caused so many in the family to have cancer!). It was pumped by hand (we have a well like that out our back door but the hand pump no longer works - we have a water pump we use the water to water trees and flowers etc. and sometimes the garden.) Wash day WAS a chore and of course all of it was hung on a clothesline, even in the dead of winter. Since I was fairly tall I learned early to "peg" clothes and the art of keeping all the socks together, all the towels together, jeans, etc. I do have clotheslines and I might use them more once I'm retired.ReplyDelete
Joyce in KS
Gosh, Joyce, you could write your own book of 'pioneer' adventures. I do love the smell of clothes right off the clothesline. I rarely use my dryer but it does come in handy in the middle of winter! And, I have never, ever had to pump water. I am a spoiled, urban woman!Delete