This book had an interesting concept and a strong protagonist, but ultimately couldn’t overcome an uneven, poorly paced plot.
“That’s exactly the good thing about the Injun life–you don’t have to stop and think about whether or not you’re ‘happy’–which in my opinion is a highly overrated human condition invented by white folks”
In 1875, a Cheyenne chief demanded 1,000 white women from the United States government. They wanted to marry them, have children with them, and solidify their relationship to the U.S. government. In reality, Ulysses S Grant turned them down after the public went crazy. In Jim Fergus’s book, the president says yes, and a covert “brides for Indians” program begins. May Dodd volunteers to go, eager to escape the sanitarium where her parents had her committed. She tells her story in a collection of letters that makes up One Thousand White Women.
The general idea of the program being carried out makes for a good hook, but overall I didn’t really like this novel. While I did like May and some of the other characters, overall everyone was pretty poorly sketched. The author also has an annoying habit of randomly italicizing words to indicate emphasis in speech — often several times in one sentence. Made me crazy. Mostly, however, my big problem came with the ending. After hundreds of pages of these woman rather easily settling into Cheyenne society (like really, really easily), a sudden outbreak of violence at the end shocked me and seemed very uncharacteristic of the novel as whole.