Tuesday, 13 August 2013

July 2013 - One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus was fictitious with a vein of truth at the beginning.

It tells the story of how the U.S government made a deal with the Cheyenne tribe in which they would give them one thousand white women as brides with the purpose of making lasting peace between the two of them.  And that is where the truth ends.  This deal was never arranged but the story that follows is a fictional account of what would have happened.

There were mixed feelings about this book, with most of the group acknowledging that although this was an interesting period of history, the story of May Dodd was so unbelievable that it spoilt the book.  As this book had only been published in the USA and France, we wondered why it had not been published in UK but then decided that it was so bad that was the reason!! 

We found this book easy to read, maybe a good choice to take away on holiday or to read at the beach where you would just enjoy some frivolous fiction but because it was unrealistic that made people irritable, as they could not connect with any of the characters. 

Some readers thought it was a bit of a Mills and Boon novel, with no real meaty stories, with the characters skipping from one adventure to the next and not in any sense like real life.  With the journey the characters seemed too stereotyped and most parts were too idealistic and this made the story weaker.  Even the rape that took place was glossed over and never talked about again and this is not a true portrayal of what would happen in a real life situation.

No body thought the plot was believable as May Dodd seemed to be too modern a character as the book was written in the ‘Wild West’ days. We didn’t think that anyone would have volunteered to go with the Cheyenne to be their brides in those times. Although we realise that some women might have wanted to escape their situation, ie. the ones who were locked in asylums for instance but then most probably those women might have not even been sane. 

The part about the white baby being accepted as special in the Cheyenne tribe was unbelievable because that was the whole point of the women going to be brides, to mix the races, and yet May Dodd has a pure white baby and the Chief is obviously not the father, yet he accepts the baby as his own. 

The characters were unconvincing and no one really felt any empathy towards them.  The characters were too stereotyped even down to the Vicar.  The fact that the Irish twins were regarded as something special and then managed to find twin Cheyenne boys to marry just made you realise that the whole story was just getting out of hand. 

The book was sympathetic to the Indian cause but was very patronising to the women. 

The prologue was quite good but other than that, the style was immensely irritating and it would have been better to have read something like Anne Frank rather than reading the diaries of May Dodd. 

The ending did tie up loose ends but that’s not always a good thing with a book.  When May Dodd was hit in the shoulder, that should not have been a fatal shot, but she just seemed to die straight away.  Most of the group thought that the Chief should have died in battle like he would have in real life, as he would never have run away from the battle.  The group all felt that the Cheyenne would have been ready for battle but the government troops were able to surprise them and massacre all of them, except the Chief!

The ending did disappoint most of us but on the plus side, there won’t be a sequel!  We felt that the ending was a bit rushed.

Most of the group felt that they would not read anything else by the author except maybe out of curiosity to see if the first novel might just be better.

The rating of the book varied tremendously with the following scores between 2 and 6.

Average score: 4/10

Write up by Joy.

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