Book Review of
The acclaimed and captivating true story of two restless society girls who left their affluent lives to “rough it” as teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916.
In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, bored by society luncheons, charity work, and the effete men who courted them, left their families in Auburn, New York, to teach school in the wilds of northwestern Colorado. They lived with a family of homesteaders in the Elkhead Mountains and rode to school on horseback, often in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The young cattle rancher who had lured them west, Ferry Carpenter, had promised them the adventure of a lifetime. He hadn’t let on that they would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.
Nearly a hundred years later, Dorothy Wickenden, the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff, found the teachers’ buoyant letters home, which captured the voices of the pioneer women, the children, and other unforgettable people the women got to know. In reconstructing their journey, Wickenden has created an exhilarating saga about two intrepid women and the “settling up” of the West.
Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden is an example of why I loved my challenge of reading a nonfiction book about every state. I read this book for the Colorado book for my challenge, and I really enjoyed reading it. I wouldn’t have picked up this book though if I hadn’t been looking for a book about Colorado. I love nonfiction books, but this book isn’t the normal type of book I would reach for. However, I am so glad I read it. It is a fascinating story of two educated society girls, who gave up life as they knew it, to live and teach school in the American West. They gave up comfort and a relatively easy life for a life of living with homesteaders in Colorado. Their year of living in Colorado during 1916 changed their lives forever.
Nothing Daunted shares the story of these two women, but it shares so much more about life in the American West, during the early 1900’s. The book is written by the granddaughter of one of the women, and she captures so well what life in Colorado during 1916 must have been like.