Stephanie's Reviews > Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden
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's review
Aug 11, 2011

really liked it

Dorothy Wickenden uses a cache of letters written by her grandmother, Dorothy Woodruff and Dorothy's best friend, Rosamund Underwood, as the starting point to recount the tale of these two plucky 19th century women. Graduates of Smith College, who return to their prominent families in Auburn, New York after a grand European tour, Dorothy and "Ros" are disillusioned by the rigid social routines of their class. To stave off certain boredom, in 1916, they apply to teach in a new schoolhouse built in tiny Elkhead on Colorado's raw frontier. Although lacking the requisite credentials, their photographs are enough for Ferry Carpenter, a Harvard educated lawyer and Colorado rancher, to extend an invitation to the women to come to Elkhead, and they embark on an adventure that Ros later writes was "the best year of her life." The women write to their families about the children of impoverished homesteaders and miners who, clad in little more than rags, trudge miles in waist high snow to attend class. They also write about their adventures with Ferry and his best friend, Sam Perry, the son of a prominent mine owner. Most moving are the parade of remarkable, resiliant women on the rough frontier, women for whom Dorothy remarks: "The state seemed to be full of tiny invincible women who never complained." Wickenden has written a charming story documenting a rich slice of everyday American history.

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