Joy V. Smith Day 5

Detour Trail

Westward bound on the Oregon Trail, Lorena Emerson is alone after her uncle is killed by a thief trying to steal his money belt. Ignoring the wagon master's advice to go home, she rounds up others needing help, and they join a later wagon train and are soon slogging through dust and mud and steep mountain passes. It's a long way to Oregon, and because another woman needs her help, Lorrie again goes her own way, leaving the wagon train and the Oregon Trail to travel onward—off the beaten path—with her small group of wagons. She's helped by members of her wagon train, people she meets along the way, and the mule, Jake, an integral part of the story. You'll meet them as they join in her travels and encounters with enemies and as she searches for a new home and supplies as winter reaches out its icy hands.... Settling the frontier isn't easy!

Joy V. Smith
It's rare that you find a Western written by a woman. Maybe that's why it's been labeled an
historical novel as well as a western.  Historical novels often have a character from history play a
part in the story. I don't think that's true in this novel unless I missed something. It's not
important. What is important is that the story rings true and this one does.
The western novels I've read have usually been written by men with an emphasis on the "wild and
wooly" dimension of the Wild West. The "Detour Trail" has plenty of violent moments but what I
also found engaging was the emphasis Ms. Smith gave to the town building and housekeeping
aspects of what pioneers had to do.
Many novels and films today make their female protagonists equal or superior to men when it
comes to defending themselves. Lorena Emerson, the lead woman in this novel, is one of them.
What I like about her is she's a balanced character. Tough as nails when she has to be with a warm
and caring touch when needed. Women have been homemakers because of childbearing, but
there is much cultural evidence of their history as leaders in community development. Too bad so
many  men don't share.
Like all westerns I've read there are good guys and bad buys including renegade native Americans.
What I found here that I didn't find in others was what went on when it came time to build a
community. How people worked together and learned to respect the differences among
themselves. In that regard there is a lesson for what's going on today in the streets and even the
Besides writing a good story Joy V. Smith has given us something to think about when it comes to
the respect most pioneers had for each other. More than a history lesson the respect shown in the
characters of the "Detour Trail" is needed in the here and now.
4 Stars
Bill S

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Bill! (Some of my favorite books are about settling frontiers...)


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