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The Good Journey

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  213 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Inspired by actual letters, The Good Journey breathes life into history with a richly imagined chronicle of twenty tumultuous years in the marriage of two American pioneers.

Strong-willed Southern belle Mary Bullitt abandons her life of luxury in Louisville, Kentucky, when she marries General Henry Atkinson and accompanies him to his outpost on the Mississippi. Nothing ha

Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 26th 2001)
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May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastically written book! Based on letters written by the real-life heroine, The Good Journey follows the marriage of Mary Bullitt to General Henry Atkinson, one of the men charged with making the frontier "safe" for white settlers. I really enjoyed that Mary was not your typical early 19th century woman, full of vapors and hysteria. She was intelligent, witty, possessed of her own mind, and set on remaining unmarried so as not to become some man's chattel. All of her intentions disappe ...more
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up on a whim and loved it! It is one of those books I was sad to finish. Towards the very end of the book, I discovered that this book is based on and taken from actual diaries and historical papers.

Here is the story of Mary Bullit who marries a significantly older man who is a general at the "edge of civilization" on the Indian frontier near St. Louis in the 1820's and 30's. This story of her life and the Black Hawk wars tells a sad but fascinating story of the western frontier.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. If any of you have read it let me know what you thought. It was descriptive and had well-developed characters. I felt very involved in the story. I'm terrible at writing so can't give full credit to what I thought of this book. :) I did see she wrote one other book (which I am trying to locate - it's not at the PPL) but hasn't since which is a shame to me as she is an excellent writer.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I never quite know what to think of historical fiction. In the back of my mind, the "but is it true?" question always looms. In this case, their relationship is a major portion of the book. I think it's difficult to ever know another couple's relationship, but looking back through the lens of time and culture makes in even more difficult. So I just had a hard time believing. And it felt like she was making it a bit more spicy to appeal to modern readers...
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the characters. Excellent narrative of life in the 1800s.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this work of historical fiction. It was a small window into the shameful history of how Native Americans have been and continue to be treated in this country through the lens of people who were a part of that mistreatment and displacement. It was fascinating to see that they appear to have known what they were doing was wrong on some level, but participated in it all anyway. Good read.
May 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book up over and over trying with difficulty to finish reading it. The style of writing was extremely uneven. I had to work very hard at times reading sentences over several times to figure out who the author was speaking about. There were chapters that were clearer than others; the short glimpse into the early months of the couple's marriage was sweet and a bit clearer than other chapters but most of the book was very unclear to me. I live in Saint Louis and I am extremely familia ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Over all I thought this book was wonderful. I liked the parallels it had between the fight against the Native Americans in nineteenth century America and the societal believes of the nineteenth century Southern society. In addition to the interesting stories of contacts with the Native Americans, this story encompasses a very unique love story which is sure to keep any reader on the edge of their seat. Although there were a few holes in the plot, the Good Journey by Michaela Gilchrist kept me in ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-do-it
From the glowing description on the back, this looked very promising - "inspired by actual letters" and "chronicle of twenty years in the... marriage of two American pioneers" . But 30 pages into the book…..and it seemed "the tradition of Willa Cather" here, was inching towards the tradition of Rosemary Rogers. That's just not my idea of a good journey. Maybe I should give it another 30 pages but I'm a firm believer in first impressions. And so many more books on the shelf, waiting
Elaine Cougler
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Good Journey by Micaela Gilchrist was a first novel of the first order. Historical fiction centering around the settling of the Midwest through the Indian wars, arranged marriages and larger-than-life characters, the book promises much and delivers more. The author seamlessly takes the reader from present to past and from story to story, all the while creating the tapestry of the European settling of the new world. Great first novel!
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
After a courtship of three days, Mary Bullitt marries General Henry Atkinson and moves to a Missouri army base with him, soon learning that he is infatuated with a young Native American translator.

Lyrically written first novel. Based on the archival letters of Mary Bullitt and military studies of General Atkinson. Fascinating, in-depth characterizations and riveting historical details make for an exceptional read. Highly recommend
Alison L
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am always hesitant to read books involving the military because I know that there will be bad language and that was true for this book. I wanted to stop half way through because I was just bored with the story, but I kept thinking it had to get better...but it didn't. And, even though I don't expect a happy ending in every book I read, I was hoping that this would end better than it did. I wish I could get back the hours that I spent reading this book.
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
The three different narrators and not chronological time skips made the book a little confusing. The book was a interesting durring the Black Hawk war and the parts where Mary is trying to solve the mystery of her husbands deep connection with the indians, but the rest of the book was slow and nothing much happend.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! I enjoyed this book and hated to put it down.... even to feed the kids. It pulls you in from the beginning to end. I found the historical information fascinating. It felt real and honest. A great find! A book I know I will re-read in the future. It is filled history, love, confusion, humor and wit. Just read it and you won’t be sorry!
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: native-americans
The Good Journey is a beautifully written historical fiction novel set during the Black Hawk War between the white men and the Native Americans. I enjoyed Mary, the main character because she is not your typical pre-Civil War damsel in distress. She is sassy and confident. There were many laugh-out-loud moments in this book which were quite refreshing. A very nice story.
Gordon Ehler
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous tale that convincingly portrays the struggle between Indians and whites in the Black Hawk War without sentimentality, but still conveys the emotions of the struggle along with the inner conflicts of the well-drawn characters. One of the best books I have read. I loved the conclusion of the novel. Micaela Gilchrist excels.
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Similar to These is my Words in that it's the story of a woman trying to survive the frontier. She is also trying to work out an imperfect marriage to a general husband that frequently leaves to try to bring peace to relations between Indians and the settlers. He is tight lipped about his past life before her and such is much of the drama of the book. Very good.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Part history, mystery and romance.

I loved this book. The characters came alive to me. When I put the book down, my desire to get back to Henry, Mary and Bright Sun over-ruled. I found myself reading until the early morning hours. I could not put it down.

Historical fiction based on the 20-year marriage of General Akinson and his wife Mary during the 1820's-40's.

Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took me awhile to read this book. Lots of detail and descriptions about life in early 1800's on the frontier as the settlers moved into Indian territory. Based on the life of General Henry Atkinson , his strong willed wife Mary Bullit Atkinson and the Indian Warrior Black Hawk. A surprise ending which being historical fiction I was not sure if it was true.
Nov 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
This fictional book is based on letters written by Mary Bullit Atkinson, general's wife in the Missouri frontier during the Indian wars. The historical and character elements of the story make the book readable and intriguing. Definitely a good read!
Jul 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
I used to never give up on books, but lately I do because I have a growing stack of others to read. I guess I would sum it up as I didn't like the authors writing style. However, I only got 30 pages in.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
A historical novel narrated by the young wife of Gen. Henry Atkinson in the years surrounding the Black Hawk War. I'm not sure what to think about it. There's some beautiful writing, but it seems uneven. And it's always interesting but sometimes seems melodramatic & also at times anachronistic.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved this historical novel based on the lives on an army General and his wife set in the 1820s-30s. A very poignant look into a struggling marriage and family. A revealing look at the continual evacuation and extermination of the American Indians.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book really was well written. I enjoyed 2/3 if it...but I didn't like the setting of the Native American/Pioneer/US Army wars. Near the end, I really didn't like it. Very depressing as I thought this was going to be a great book.
Virginia (Ginny)
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 stars. Definitely worth reading, but not as much of a historical novel as I'd hoped. Although set in the past, it has more of a modern sensibility, especially the emphasis on the relationship between the narrator and her husband.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Such an intriguing story set in our nation's early frontier times. Following the story of a heroine who has much to learn about her husband it is a lovely story that really explores her journey from riches to the frontier and her relationship with her husband.
Beth Maliner
Mary Bullitt, wife of Gen. Henry Atkinson - their long marriage on the frontier (missouri) recounts her story diary style - lots of detail, excellent research - really well done
Audrey K.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
wonderful, well-researched story of Mary Bullitt, the wife of General Henry Atkinson, who was one of the first officers in charge at Missouri's Jefferson Barracks, in what is now St. Louis, Missouri
Erin McDonnell-Jones
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Overall, a very sad but captivating story line. Some parts were slow but overall I enjoyed it.
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