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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Glorious Ambition: Book Review

One Glorious Ambition : The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, a Novel

Jane Kirkpatrick


On Sale Date: April 2, 2013
9781400074310, 1400074312
Paperback / softback / Trade paperback (US)
$14.99 US / $17.99 Can.
Fiction / Historical
Paperback Original





By now, as a reader of my reviews, I’m assuming you know that Jane Kirkpatrick is my favorite author. Jane has a way of finding women who have done interesting things, in times that women were expected to sweep out soddies, entertain families, and bring up children.  I have a feeling that Dorothea Dix is personal to her, since her “glorious ambition” pertains to the the mentally ill and Jane worked in this field for many years.

This is definitely not a romantic novel, as Dorothea remains single throughout the book. I know many of you love historical fiction and dislike romance novels.

As a homeschool mom, I really enjoyed this book. We’ve been studying The Art of Argument and the Discovery of Deduction. We have a couple of Homeschool Dads in the Bend area that have successfully run for Oregon seats in government. The Homeschool Testing bill is up again this year and they are asking for testimony.  There is a huge process, in getting laws in place or changed – that require argument on the floor. Dorothea spends many years in Washington DC arguing for her bill to help the mentally insane.

Also going on during this period is the thought of the states and slavery. Abolitionists are also trying to get time before congress to argue their points.  We just finished watching Lincoln – and I could physically see the environment that Dorothea would have had to argue in. I could see her up in the seats trying to be a lady, urging her chosen spokesman to argue her bill through. I could feel her disappointment time after time.

What can one woman do to change thousands of lives in America?  She doesn’t just wait for the Federal Government to change; she gets involved at a local city and state level. This has been my cry for the last few years. Yes, we need to be heard in Washington, but what are you doing in your state to make the spot you live better? Are you supporting your Representatives and Senators at a State level?  She got quite a bit more done targeting local entities.

This was a great read. As usual, following a live person’s life, it is not full of mystery, twists, turns, crying, gnashing of teeth – this is following the life of a real person, through her real life, while she does extraordinary things and makes choices we agree, and sometimes disagree with. You really want to know how she gets on, and you’ll feel compassionate to her losses and gains along the way, and it will leave you wishing you could have helped her.

A perfect weekend read.

From the Publisher:

A compelling women's historical novel based on the life of a woman who refused to be defined by her past, conventional Victorian thinking, or the people around her-and changed the face of mental illness in the 19th century.
Growing up in household full of pain and tragedy, Dorothea Dix thought she was destined for nothing more than teaching and to raising her two younger brothers. She opened her first school for girls when she was fifteen and by twenty-three, was a best-selling author living an orderly and disciplined Boston life. But a visit to a prison to teach Sunday School to women in 1841 launched a new path for Dorothea, one that would turn her personal hardships into great strides for the less fortunate. Dorothea fought for the lives of those with mental illness, the poor and prisoners. Her political savvy, rare amongst women in her time, challenged those who made the rules in the almshouses, debtor prisons and private homes where mentally ill people were often chained and forgotten. Those tragic souls changed Dorothea, too, illuminating the path of peace within her own suffering and bring her "a happiness which goes with you."

A GREAT BOOK CLUB PICK: The themes of mental illness and fighting on behalf of those that can’t fight for themselves will inspire deep discussion.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free as part of BloggingForBooks.Org in exchange for a review.

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