Elizabeth Letts returns to the blog with the true story of Annie Wilkins from the 1950’s with
The Ride of Her Life
Annie Wilkins was the last of her line, and an older, unmarried woman in rural upstate Maine when everything fell apart. Farming was never easy up in the Lewiston/Auburn area – and her remote little town of Minot was without much opportunity. After the death of her ‘uncle’ when she was stricken with pneumonia and a recurrence of the tuberculosis, she’d contracted years earlier while doing ‘off farm’ work to supplement the farm’s income, she’s returned home to her little dog companion and little else but a rundown farm, no running water or electricity, or options.
She’s always dreamed of seeing the Pacific Ocean however, and an opportunity to get a horse headed for the abattoir, she brings him home – soon to head off. Annie, Tarzan (the horse) and Depeche Toi (her dog) leave Maine in November 1954 to beat the snow and start their adventure. From little tidbits about Annie’s determination and single-mindedness, her flouting of ‘conventional’ roles for women and truly caring little for the opinions of others, she was a maverick in the true sense of the word, even as she was one of the last of a long line of “saddle tramps’.
As often happens in these sorts of stories, Annie is treated to several challenges, and relies on the kindness of the people she meets and finds hope and sunlight in her sunset years. From illness to unlikely companions, Annie captures the imagination of the press – and she’s soon a ‘story of interest’ and captures a sort of hope and belief in those who hear of her story: that there are wonders to be found and it is never too late to chase your dreams. Annie is typical of a hard-bitten New Englander. Reserved, determined, self-sufficient, private and quietly imaginative – even when all the odds are stacked against her. Ill health, a lack of consistent medical care, even finding time for rest and enjoyment are all secondary considerations to the task at hand – and while she’s got little use for most humans, her animals and their happiness and chance for joy are foremost in her thoughts. Letts (in the second I’ve read from her) captures Annie in a way that is respectful and honors her strengths – physical, of character and her determination as she takes one last chance to chase a dream held for years.
Title: The Ride of Her Life
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Series: , ,
Genre: Biography / Memoir, Historical Non-Fiction, Animals, Biographic / autobiographic, Historic Elements, Humor elements, Second Chance, Setting: American, Sociological Relevancy, Travelogue
Published by: Ballantine Books
Published on: 1 June, 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 27 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
The triumphant true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Horse and The Eighty-Dollar Champion
In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn’t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.