Dani Peloquin's Reviews > One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
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May 11, 12


I am always up for speculative historical fiction in which an author takes an event that didn't happen but writes a book about if it did happen. This is the premise for Roth's Plot Against America in which he asks what if Charles Lindbergh had been elected president. Well in Jim Fergus' One Thousand White Women, Fergus tells the reader of how a Cheyenne chief asked the US government for one thousand white women so that the Americans and Cheyenne could bear children together for the purpose of peace and assimilation. The US government turned them down by Fergus' novel explains what could have happened if they had taken the chief up on the deal.

The novel is written as a diary by Mary Dodd who was committed to an insane asylum by her parents because she had two children out of wedlock. When she is given the chance to leave the asylum and start a new life as a bride to a "savage", she jumps at the opportunity. The women who also took the government up on their offer include an impoverished Southern belle, two Irish criminals, a prude, a freed slave and many more. None of them know what to expect from their new lives and many are terrified when they meet their betrothed. Yet, being wed to a "savage" is not the hardest thing these women will have to overcome.

First of all, the reviews for this book are harshly divided. People either absolutely loved it and would include it on their list of books they would take to a deserted island. While others wish it could be part of a book burning party. However, I have to say that I am somewhere in between. This is far from a favorite for me and I would have to say that I am a bit leery about recommending it to my friends because I think they would find the characters to be shallow, the plot to be insipid, and the overall message to be muddled. Still, that's no reason to get out your lighter fluid. The way I would describe this novel is a western for women filled with the adventure of a John Wayne movie and just about equal in character development.

With such a diverse cast of characters I thought I would find one that was intriguing. But alas...they were nothing but cliches and offensive ones at that. I wasn't as repulsed by the characters as some other reviewers but I didn't find them in any way enlightening. I think that it would make a great book club book (and it has) because people are so divided and feel passionately about it.


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