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REVIEW

"A delightful historical romantic drama"

In 1826 Louisville, Mary Bullitt is considered a spinster by the time she reaches twenty-two. However, things change when General Henry Atkinson, Commander of the Sixth Regiment and guardian of the frontier stretching from the Canadian border to the Red River, arrives in town. Mary's mother wants her daughter to accept Henry's courtship.

When Henry proposes, Mary says yes. They marry and move to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis. Compared to the grandeur of her former home, her new abode seems like a hovel. However, Mary is contented because she likes her new spouse though he keeps many secrets and is very silent. Over the next eighteen years together, Mary observes the destruction of the Indians by the General and others reluctantly obeying orders from DC.

THE GOOD JOURNEY is a look back to a time when the military carried out Washington's directions to slaughter the Indians so that 'Americans' can replace them on their land. Through Mary and Henry's eyes, the readers see a perspective that will shake the audience with an American destruction that is nothing less than genocide. Micaela Gilchrist provides quite an Americana fiction novel Of the American West reminiscent of the great L'Amour.

Harriet Klausner

Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted June 28, 2001

SUMMARY

In the tradition of such memorable bestselling authors as

Willa Cather and Edna Ferber, or such more recent successes

as Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Philip Kimball's

Liar's Moon, Micaela Gilchrist has written a first-rate,

romantic and deeply moving historical novel, rich with the

kind of detail that brings history to life and peopled with

the kind of larger-than-life characters that stand out

against even the brilliant, tumultuous, bloody backdrop of

the struggle for the West.

Inspired by the real-life letters and diaries of Mary

Bullitt, an outspoken and strong-willed young Southern

belle whose life on the frontier is the stuff of legend and

of epics, The Good Journey is the sweeping and enthralling

story of two extraordinary people, set against a West that

was still to be won. It is at once a love story, the

intimate portrait of a marriage and a fascinating

recreation of the Black Hawk wars, the long, bloody clash

between one of the great Native American leaders and his

principal opponent, a tough, resourceful and determined

American general with deeply conflicted feelings on the

subject of Indians.

When Mary Bullitt first meets General Henry Atkinson, who

has come east from his outpost on the Mississippi

specifically to find a bride, she is barely civil to him,

and that only to humor her mother, who is anxious to have

her oldest daughter make a good match and get on with her

life by becoming a wife and mother. No one is more

surprised than Mary herself, therefore, when only a few

days later she finds herself married to this intriguing

older stranger and headed away (in circumstances of extreme

discomfort) from the civilized life she enjoyed in

Louisville, Kentucky, into the unknown wilds of the western

frontier.

The midwinter journey from Louisville to St. Louis, where

the General has his headquarters, is arduous, but nothing

prepares Mary Bullitt for the rigors -- and very real

danger -- of life at the edge of the vast expanse of the

Western Territory, a name given at the time (approximately

1820) to everything that lay beyond the Mississippi River.

Living conditions are primitive, especially compared to the

wealth and luxury Mary left behind in Kentucky, but more

unsettling still is the constant threat of attack from the

Indians that hangs over their daily lives -- and Mary's

growing awareness that she knows even less about this man

she has married than she does about the place and the

people who live there.

The unfolding of their marriage -- and the appearance in

their lives of Bright Sun, a pretty young Indian woman who

seems to have a close and mysterious relationship to the

General, and of Black Hawk himself, a fierce and determined

enemy whose connection to the General is tangled, deeply

personal and another mystery -- takes place against the

background of war and hardship, as Mary struggles not only

to find herself, but to make a success of her marriage with

a man even more stubborn than herself.

The Good Journey spans the approximately twenty

years of Mary and the General's marriage, during which many

battles, both large and small, are waged. In the end, none

is a clear victory, for nothing is won without a loss,

whether it is something as substantial as more land for the

settlers or something as basic as Mary's gradual uncovering

of the hidden secrets of the General's past. Micaela

Gilchrist's debut novel offers a journey that you will not

soon forget.

 

The Good Journey
by Micaela Gilchrist

Simon & Schuster
July 1, 2001
ISBN #0684871432
400 pages
Hardcover
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