Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk

My internet is out and while I can post via email from my phone, I can’t include links or pictures. So I’ll be adding more to this post when I can get online.

This book was mentioned at the end of A Daughter’s Walk. (I reviewed A Daughter’s Walk a few weeks ago.) A Daughter’s Walk is a novel based on a cross-country walk made by Helga & Clara Estby in 1896. Bold Spirit is a factual account of the walk, put together almost exclusively from newspaper accounts of the walk. Helga kept a diary as they walked, but her bag containing her money and her diary was stolen in New York City. Her family destroyed the letters she wrote them on her journey. Later in life, she started writing a memior, but after her death, her children burned it, wanting no reminders of what they saw as their mother’s shame and betrayal.

Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America

This factual account is actually more heart-breaking than the novel, perhaps because everything is there in black and white with no invented dialogue or assumed motivations to get in the way.

I would recommend reading Bold Spirit before A Daughter’s Walk, simply because A Daughter’s Walk fills in blanks that you don’t realize are even there until you read Bold Spirit. It’s kind of like watching the movie before you read the book. Bold Spirit is the book and A Daughter’s Walk is the “movie”.