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Sacajawea
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Group Read Discussions > May 2014: Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo - Marked spoilers permitted

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message 1: by Becky, Moddess (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) | 3685 comments Mod
May's group read. Spoilers allowed here, but please MARK them using clear warnings or the HTML. :)


message 2: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret Crampton (cramptonmargaret) | 8022 comments There does not appear to be a Kindle version unfortunately. So it is difficult to find a copy in South Africa.


Sandy from Alaska Colón (sandycfromak) | 75 comments I bought an ebook through Barnes and Noble.


message 4: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 296 comments I just started this today, in between marketing. Right now, it's a little slow.


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments Margaret wrote: "There does not appear to be a Kindle version unfortunately. So it is difficult to find a copy in South Africa." Margaret, check again. I was able to get the book on my Kindle phone app


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments I have to confess I cheated a little and started this book before May 1, so I'm about a quarter of the way through it already. My mom is in the hospital so I have been spending lots of time sitting around the hospital reading. I read it 30 years ago and loved it, and now I remember why.
1. Sacajawea is such a worthy woman: intelligent, hard-working, strong and loving. I love a book with a worthy female character. That is why Jane Eyre, Katherineand The Dollmakerare 3 of my favorites. I really can't be bothered with any book about a woman who has no agency in her life and everything that happens to her is because she is beautiful and some interesting man falls in love with her. Yech!
2. The wealth of historical detail. Some people find it tedious, but I love reading about exactly how, for example, the Native Americans dressed a buffalo.


Linda Ulleseit (lindaulleseit) | 43 comments So far I'm finding this very interesting. I like the historical detail, but I prefer it told in story rather than the author stepping out of the story to say, "Oh, and this is how Indians of her day really did it:..."


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments Does anyone know how accurate Waldo's portrayal of Plains natives culture is? She certainly doesn't romanticize. She makes it clear that life was harsh, and seems to provide a balanced view. The Shoshoni, and some of the other tribes, are portrayed as very generous, but she doesn't shy away from the low status of women in all tribes and their virtual slavery in many. The book was written at least 30 years ago, but it was obviously very carefully researched. Does anyone know if Waldo's portrayal of Native culture has stood the test of time, and further research?


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments I just got my paper copy from the library (the only copy on the system). It is 1200 pages long in very small print--I think it is not for me.


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I got the paperback book in the mail Saturday. Oh my gracious! That might be the thickest paperback I've ever seen!


CandyBeans | 62 comments I had to get a librarian at the Baltimore library to go down to the basement and pull an ancient copy out of storage. It does have such tiny print! It makes me sleepy to read, but not out of disinterest. I may have to buy the Kindle version if I'm going to continue.

I'm also enjoying the amount of detail so far. It's complete without being too tedious.


message 12: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 296 comments I had trouble with this book, I just couldn't get into it.
Also, CandyBeans, I see you live near me. :) I live in Baltimore County.


CandyBeans | 62 comments Melissa wrote: "I had trouble with this book, I just couldn't get into it.
Also, CandyBeans, I see you live near me. :) I live in Baltimore County."


Nice to meet you Melissa! I will let you know if the book picks up at all. I'm about 20 pages in.


message 14: by Jodi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jodi (sweetgrassvt) | 4 comments I confess I cheated too and started the book early, so I'm about halfway through by now - which seems impossible given how long I've been reading! Despite its terrifying length, I'm enjoying it, largely for experience of living in the world of the journey. She does a wonderful job bringing it alive with a wealth of small details.

While much of the dialogue rings true, my primary quibble is with the dialogue between Lewis and Clark themselves, which stands out from the rest as artificial and highly unlikely - especially given that she begins many chapters with quotations from their journals. In their own words they are consistently low-key and understated, while she has them exclaiming all over the place. It doesn't work for me. But almost all of the other dialogue - between the other men of expedition, between Sacajawea and Charbonneau, or among the many tribespeople, is all much better.


message 15: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments That's the problem with writing fictional dialog for famous, real, iconic people. The author is seldom up to the task of bridging the gap between their reputation and fiction.


Jenny GB (jennygb) | 7 comments I'm 150 pages in so far and generally I like it. I hope the endless men chasing or desiring Sacajawea ends soon, though. Perhaps it's historical, but it's getting tedious. Also, does anyone know of a good map for the locations for the villages she is living in and the route she eventually takes with Lewis and Clark? I think that would be really helpful to have on hand!


message 17: by Jodi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jodi (sweetgrassvt) | 4 comments There's an interactive google map here: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...


And then some more historical ones on the PBS site:

http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/arch...
http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/trai...


message 18: by Jodi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jodi (sweetgrassvt) | 4 comments Also a super simple-and-easy-to-read one here:
http://www.lewisandclark.com/facts/fa...


Jenny GB (jennygb) | 7 comments I had found the other ones and it wasn't quite what I wanted, but I really love the Google map. Thanks Sweetgrass!


message 20: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 13 comments Just got mine in the mail! Looking forward to reading it when my little one goes down for a nap. :)


Sammy I just ordered mine today, I thought I'd be able to get it in the kindle store but it seems to be a really hard book to get a hold of! Hopefully will be worth the wait :)


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments Kristin wrote: "Just got mine in the mail! Looking forward to reading it when my little one goes down for a nap. :)"

Sammy wrote: "I just ordered mine today, I thought I'd be able to get it in the kindle store but it seems to be a really hard book to get a hold of! Hopefully will be worth the wait :)"
Weird that you couldn't get it at the Kindle store. I got it for the Kindle app on my phone.


gathering feather organiceden | 4076 comments Two things have come to me so far in this story.
1- I never learned a school about the incredible suffering that Sacajawea went through in her early life
2- I always wondered about slavery among native Americans. The story in my family is: My great grandmother was bought as a slave by my great grandfather. No other records that I had ever read mentions slavery. Its confirmation that my family story is true!


Sammy I think it's only the US kindle store that have it, not UK :)


message 25: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 252 comments I remember reading this book many years ago...loved it then, but haven't re-read it recently. I hope I'll be able to give it another whirl this month!

Anyway, just in case anybody needs a chuckle (especially Kathy with your mom in the hospital...hope she's okay!) I give you: Portlandia's "Sacagawea" sketch.


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments Thanks, LM, that was GREAT!!
Thanks for asking, my mom is doing much better, home from rehab now and completely independent again.
I'm about 1/3 of the way through re-reading Sacajawea and enjoying it the second time around.
What I remember liking about this book is that if focuses for about the first half on the L&C Expedition, then tells the rest of the story of her life, so you see how the Expedition experience shaped her life story.


message 27: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) (lmironside) | 252 comments I really should re-read it soon, since I'm working on a novel right now about another famous Native American woman and Anna Lee Waldo's novel is one of the best about interactions between Natives and Whites.

You guys were able to find it on Kindle, right?


message 28: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 13 comments I have finished Book 1, so far.

I must admit that I find the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter to be annoying. I keep thinking, "Just let the story tell itself!" Along those same lines, I feel like the author has a lot of research that she trys to cram into each event. I do love the details for historical reasons, but in the story, I can almost hear the author interjecting, "and by this, I mean..." and "he thought this, because..."

I still like the story! I admit I never knew anything about her besides her name, before this book. On the plus side, I am amazed at the accounts of slave capturing/selling within the tribes. I feel like this is something one doesn't think of when regarding slavery in the 1800's. Also, her transition from a hunter/gathering tribe, to an agricultural tribe, to an active-trade tribe was amazing. (I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler!) It was all new to her and I thought those moments were some of the best parts.


CandyBeans | 62 comments L.M. wrote: "I really should re-read it soon, since I'm working on a novel right now about another famous Native American woman and Anna Lee Waldo's novel is one of the best about interactions between Natives a..."

It seems like US readers can get it on kindle at least. I may have to return my library copy and invest the $8 myself. This copy is so old and dusty - I think it might be giving me sneezing fits!

I'm not very far along since I'm also doing the May TBR challenge, and I wanted to clear a path. I imagine I'll spend the last two weeks of May on this alone. I do like the way Waldo is providing characterization. Lately, I've read so many HF books that are too clunky and obvious in their delivery.


Linda Ulleseit (lindaulleseit) | 43 comments Kristin wrote: "I have finished Book 1, so far.

I must admit that I find the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter to be annoying. I keep thinking, "Just let the story tell itself!" Along those same lines, I..."


I agree exactly! I like history but not mingled this much with my fiction. I like the history to be part of the story. I am still reading it, and still liking it except for the occasional muttered, "Get back to the story!"


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I read this over ten years ago. I liked it but chose not to keep it because I am not so sure of the story after Charbonue death.


message 32: by Jackballoon (new)

Jackballoon (platogleon) | 5486 comments I just received the book in the mail. Had no idea how long it was. I hope I finish it by next May!


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments I'm about halfway through this book. I loved it when I read it for the first time 30 years ago. This time around, I agree with the comments that it is VERY long and detailed. I wonder if the difference is that the pace of life has speeded up so much since the 1980s and everyone's attention span is shorter, even mine. I pride myself on being pretty old-school: I spend way more time reading than watching TV or posting on Facebook, and I think I have a good attention span. But I do notice that my attention span for long blocks of text is not what it used to be.


Sammy Kristin wrote: "I have finished Book 1, so far.

I must admit that I find the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter to be annoying. I keep thinking, "Just let the story tell itself!" Along those same lines, I..."


I'm feeling the same right now about the intro excerpts. I feel like especially in the chapters 'Captives' and 'Wild Dog' the excerpt basically told us what was about to happen in the chapter. It's not great to be feeling like I'm being spoon-fed the story if that makes sense. In other ways it's so good! I wish it had a better flow though.


message 35: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 13 comments Linda, Sammy -- I'm glad I'm not alone! I prefer the HF books that put all the historical notes in the back, such as; photos, diary excerpts, letters, ect. I wonder how the story would have been if Waldo had gone with that route?

Kathy -- I never thought about the pace of our modern reading, but you are correct in that it is much faster these days! I took a class in Ancient Roman Lit and I remember the professor making a comment about how, back then, reading was a much more involved process to be ingested, discussed, and enjoyed at leisure. Plus, reading some of the novels published around the turn of the century also gave me headaches with their fancy prose and exceedingly slow plots. Amazing how times have changed!


Sammy Maybe we don't read the way the Ancient Romans did because if we don't like a book we can abandon it and we have so, so many more to chose from, whereas they had very limited options.

It's quite sad that because of how readily available books are to us, we might be avoiding/giving up on some really worthwhile ones because they're too slow or too long and we can easily move on to something a bit more past paced.


message 37: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments For me it was more the small print than the length of the book. Normally, I like long novels, because, assuming I like the book, of course, I get to spend longer time with interesting characters.


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments I love Sacajawea as a character. In every challenging situation, she adapts, learns and makes herself useful. Yet, even as basically a slave, she has inherent dignity and the ability to find something that is just her own, like her blue stone, and her befriending of the wild dog when she is first a captive. She does not allow herself to be defined by her circumstances or by anyone else's opinion of her. I'm....ummmm, a FEW years older than she is and I still haven't achieved that!


Kathryn Bashaar | 166 comments OK, it's official: this book is way too long and wordy! I will finish it, but I'm about halfway through and it's really starting to meander. The author seemed to feel like she had to put every event that happened anywhere near St. Louis in the 1800s in, the Madrid earthquake, the first steamboat, some duel that has not real bearing on her story. There's a lot of random stuff that doesn't enhance the story at all. It's like she couldn't leave out one single bit of her historic research.


Sammy This comment has SPOLIERS

Does anyone know any true facts about the relationship between Sacajawea and Clark?

I'm a quarter of the way through and Sacajawea has pretty much fallen in love with him but I read online that there is absolutely no indication, anywhere, that there was anything romantic between them.

I'm guessing that Waldo wouldn't have just included a romance for the sake of it - that would question the integrity of the story surely?


Linda Ulleseit (lindaulleseit) | 43 comments Sammy wrote: "This comment has SPOLIERS

Does anyone know any true facts about the relationship between Sacajawea and Clark?

I'm a quarter of the way through and Sacajawea has pretty much fallen in love with h..."


Yeah, that surprised me too. Sacajawea herself is such a wonderful character. Everyone else seems shallow and unlikable except Clark and York.


message 42: by Alana (new)

Alana White (httpwwwgoodreadscomalanawhite) | 42 comments Linda wrote: "Sammy wrote: "This comment has SPOLIERS

Does anyone know any true facts about the relationship between Sacajawea and Clark?

I'm a quarter of the way through and Sacajawea has pretty much fallen ..."

Possible Spoiler: I conducted a lot of research for my nonfiction bio "Sacagawea: Westward with Lewis and Clark." Everything we know about the L & C expedition comes from the journals the two men wrote during their journey--and, yes, their language is stilted. Sadly, there are only a handful of references to Sacagawea. One of the very few personal comments comes when Clark states she is "displeased" with him. Apparently, they did walk together often on the trails, and he helped her when she fell ill, as did Lewis. Once they returned home, Clark took her baby (the son of her and her husband, Charbonneau) into his care and provided for the boy's education. That's about all there is of the facts, though asides make it clear she was an invaluable asset to the expedition, particularly since her presence confirmed the explorers' friendly intentions to the Native Americans they encountered along the way. Hers truly is a remarkable story in many ways.


Sammy Thanks Alana. It really is a remarkable story. I'm just a little sad to think that the whole Clark relationship is fabricated. It's probably because I wish she did get a little bit of affection from someone, since her husband was useless to say the least.


message 44: by Alana (new)

Alana White (httpwwwgoodreadscomalanawhite) | 42 comments I think probably Clark did feel affectionate toward her; both men certainly depended on her help to make it across those mountains, and neither had a bit of respect for Charbonneau. As for her fortitude and accomplishments, I find it hard to imagine a teen girl making that 4,000 mile trek with an infant to care for, then or now:) A few years ago, there was a film (tv) about the expedition. Probably NPT. You might enjoy checking into that. I can't believe M. Lewis took his dog along...and the dog made it back. There are several children's picture books out there about "Seaman." He was a newfoundland, and at first the Native Americans thought he was a bear....:)


message 45: by Alana (new)

Alana White (httpwwwgoodreadscomalanawhite) | 42 comments Sammy, I looked up the title of the documentary. It was Ken Burns, "Lewis and Clark: the Journey of the Corps of Discovery."


Sammy Great thank you, I'll check it out. I'm glad Scannon makes it, I've been wondering!


message 47: by Alana (new)

Alana White (httpwwwgoodreadscomalanawhite) | 42 comments Oops! Hope that wasn't a spoiler. Sorry...!


Sammy Haha no it's okay, I'm glad. I've passed it now but when I started the chapter 'Dog Meat' I was just like "oh no...".


message 49: by Charlene (new) - added it

Charlene (charlenethestickler) I signed out what is, in fact, a very dusty old copy of this book from the interloan library system in our state. Sad to say, I overextended myself with beta reads and other books I promised to review, so I cannot take the time now to read this long, long book. As someone else said above, I ususally don't mind a really long book if the story is one that interests me. I'm really sorry to have to return Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo without giving it a chance. I hope to return to it sometime, especially if this group's discussions recommend the time and energy necessary to get through the small print!


Sammy Kathy wrote: "Does anyone know how accurate Waldo's portrayal of Plains natives culture is? She certainly doesn't romanticize. She makes it clear that life was harsh, and seems to provide a balanced view. The..."

I'd like to know this as well. Have you looked into it at all?


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