Abigail Baldwyn might not be a widow after all…
Ever since she received word that her husband, Robert, was killed in the Civil War, Abigail has struggled to keep her Tennessee home and family together. Then a letter arrives claiming that Robert isn’t dead, yet he has no plans to return. Desperate for answers, Abigail travels to Independence, Missouri, where she joins a westbound wagon train to find him.
Leading a company along the Oregon Trail isn’t part of Hoke Mathews’s plans. But then the former cavalry scout gets a glimpse of Abigail—so elegant compared to the rest of their hardscrabble wagon community, yet spirited and resilient. Through every peril they encounter—snakebites, Indian raids, fevers, dangerous grudges—his bond with Abigail grows.
Abigail knew this journey would test her courage. Now it’s testing her marriage vows and her heart, daring her to claim a future on her own terms in a land rich with promise.
Sometimes we forget what the westward bound pioneers went through in order to start new lives in California and the western territories. We see the modern cities of Seattle and San Francisco and don’t think about the bravery of the people who founded them. Who were these people? Why did they go west? In Leaving Independence we meet Mrs. Abigail Baldwyn and her four children, joining a wagon train to join her husband and their father in Fort Hall, Idaho. Among their traveling companions are a family of farmers, a blacksmith and his wife, and a pastor. Friends are easy to come by, as are enemies.
Leanne Wood Smith’s novel is a convincing tale of life on the Oregon Trail. There’s no shying away from the hardships encountered or the tragedies that often befell families on the trail. But there are also happier times, such as weddings and picnics. The narrative is interspersed with letters between Abigail and a friend. These do forward the plot and I really enjoyed reading them. The characters are strong enough that you can’t help forming opinions on them. There are personalities I liked and some I just couldn’t stand! There’s also an interesting twist to the twist: the reader learns of a major plot development before Abigail does.
This is Smith’s first foray into fiction. I’d like to see a sequel regarding the characters Corinne and James, but I’m not sure it’ll happen. Still, I hope to see more from Smith in the future.
Thank you to Waterfall Press for my complimentary electronic copy of Leaving Independence, which I downloaded from NetGalley. I was not required to write a review.
Have you read Leaving Independence? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Waterfall Press (a division of Amazon)
Publication Date: 21 June 2016
Page Count: 368
Read more on: Leanne W. Smith’s Website