Danielle's Reviews > Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America

Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt
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Feb 17, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction, travel
Read in November, 2010

I was intrigued by the title and synopsis of this book. As it turned out, it was my own little endurance journey to finish it, but the interesting bits made the high-school-history-report style of the writing tolerable. This was an interesting story, I just wish there was a better version of it. Hunt repeatedly emphasized (in a preface, an introduction, a forward, and an epilogue, I believe) the great tragedy that was the intentional "forgetting" of Helga Estby's cross-country walk by her embarrassed family. Etsby actually wrote her own book about her experience (never published) which her family destroyed after her death. Okay, no doubt that is unfortunate, but Hunt seems not to consider the possibility that Estby was anything other than a hero. She blames the family's lack of pride in their matron's accomplishments on Victorian-era stigmas regarding women and their role in society. But, I think it's more likely that Estby was selfish, and a little too keen on the idea of getting something for nothing (she sued the city of Portland when she fell off the sidewalk, with language grieving her pain and suffering that would make the most unscrupulous personal injury lawyer proud). Also, she pretty much did straight up abandon her family, so while her walk is impressive, and her various encounters are interesting to read about, I don't think this is the one-sided story Hunt portrays.
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