I finished this book with a sense of satisfaction and a deeper understanding of what women had to endure and suffer in the late 1800's, early 1900's. The Daughter's Walk was fascinating and I was absolutely stunned to learn of the journey that mother and daughter took. The story that continued after the infamous walk is the author's view on what may have happened to Clara, the daughter, after they returned to Washington. Jane Kirkpatrick did extensive research that led her to tell the story as she did. Kirkpatrick was assisted in her research by members of the Estby family and various documents and city records. I am inclined to believe that Kirkpatrick must have gotten some of it right. If not, it still made for an exceptional story. Well done.
The Daughter's Walk is based on the true story and 3,500-mile historical walk of Helga Estby and her eighteen year old daughter, Clara, that began in May of 1896. The fashion industry offered a wager to Helga Estby to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City within seven months in an effort to earn ten thousand dollars and save the family farm that was in foreclosure. The women were asked to wear the new reform dresses, to show that women were strong and just as sturdy as men and could accomplish this in such attire. Their expected arrival was to be December 13th, with exceptions and extensions for illnesses. Along the way, the women could accept food and lodging but not ask or beg for it. There were many supporters along the way but there were those that scoffed at the women's dresses and considered them vulgar and obscene for their fashion notion and traveling unescorted. Helga Estby was a supporter of women suffragettes and never believed that the journey could be unsuccessful. After a year away from home, mother and daughter return home to heartbreaking and tragic circumstances that will devastate relations and split a family apart. Clara chooses to walk away from her family and must find her own way in the world. It is a story of strength, utter sadness, unlikely friendships, and a woman's ability to succeed against all odds and provide for herself. Yet, Clara proves to be a woman that cannot succeed without the strength and support of a family.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it will be a story that I will always remember. A story of incredible will and courage. The Daughter's Walk changed lives of mother and daughter forever.