Title: Leaving Independence
Author: Leanne W. Smith
Publisher: Waterfall Press
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
The Oregon Trail was a means of expansion west after a time when the country had been torn in two and people were looking to start fresh. Abigail Baldwyn thinks she is a widow with four children and no way to pay on her home as the death benefits she requested from the War Department were not coming. Abigail was shocked to learn that perhaps her children weren’t fatherless, and she may not be a widow after all! But, with few options before her, she sets out to meet up with her husband, even though he doesn’t want her to bring the children.
Abigail’s father wants nothing to do with her since she married a man who fought with the Union and he lost a son who fought in the Confederacy. Her two brothers don’t feel the same, but there is little they can do to help her out. Abigail gives Mimi her freedom papers as her maid is remaining in the area to help care for her sick sister.
The novel is rich in detail, grit and intrigue. The letters Abigail is getting from her husband aren’t making much sense and she is falling in love with another man. Abigail is a tough woman who hates to lean on others and prefers to do things for herself and her children. Her memory of various passages of Scripture sustain her. She loves to garden to see the beauty of the flowers. The adjustments she must make on the long journey are many and at times beyond her ability to look at squarely.
However, the hint of a mystery involving Abigail’s future is what leads to a very climatic and surprise ending. I couldn’t put the book down! At the beginning, the author shares her notes on the history of the times, and what was fiction, along with what she knows was fact during this era. I hope, if you haven’t had an opportunity to read the novel, you will grab a copy and enjoy the many adventures and dangers Abigail and the wagon train handle until they reach their final home in Oregon.