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

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
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Jan 11, 09

bookshelves: library
Read in December, 2008

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd is a very interesting and original book. In 1854 a Cheyenne chief proposed a plan to exchange 1000 horses for 1000 white brides for his warriors. The plan was rejected, but Fergus basis his fictional novel on a similar situation set in 1875. In the novel, the Cheyenne are promised 1000 white brides, and May Dodd, resident of an insane asylum, is one of the women selected. The character May Dodd was a strong woman and her story was compelling.

1875 finds May Dodd living in an insane asylum in Chicago. Her parents placed her there unwillingly because she was living with a man of a much lower social station without the benefit of marriage. May and her lover had two children together, and her wealthy parents used her promiscuity as means to have her committed. The asylum is a hopeless place, and May misses her beloved children greatly. When she is offered the opportunity to go west as a bride for a Cheyenne warrior in order to help assimilate the tribe into the white culture, she decides that this may be her only possibility of leaving the asylum. She journeys west with a group of other "brides," many of them from prisons or other undesirable situations. On the journey to meet her bridegroom, May comes to have deep feelings for an army officer. Knowing that their relationship is hopeless, May resolutely goes to her new home with the Cheyenne. She finds her new husband to be a man of honor, and she greatly respects him. As May and the other women who journeyed with her settle into their new lives, the U.S. government decides not to honor their bargain but to instead force these Cheyenne to a reservation. When violence strikes the Cheyenne in the form of the U.S. Army, many of the brides and their new families come to a tragic end.

I enjoyed this book. I quickly became caught up in the story, and was saddened by the tragic end that came to many of the characters. May Dodd was an unusual, but likeable heroine. I enjoyed the manner in which the beginning and end of the book take place in the present with one of her desendants searching for information about May after the family story of her dying in the Chicago asylum is derailed.
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