Title: Widow 1881
Author: Sara Dahmen
Genre: Women’s Historical Pioneer Fiction
Blurb: Boston widow Jane Weber moves to the Dakota Territories to save her respectability but finds her proper views challenged every step. Rooming with the last Blackfoot Sioux in Flats Junction and navigating a mercurial friendship with the fiercely independent town grocer leaves Jane reeling as she stumbles to understand the town folk and the unwritten rules of the west in 1881. Everyone has a story, including Jane herself and her unpredictable physician employer.
Excerpt: Suppose it is not real. I have not yet felt the quickening. It is early yet – too early to really discuss it. For this employer to know, when my lover had not and my husband could not, feels as if I am exposing my private bedroom to a stranger.
Terror shoots into me. I hadn’t wanted him to find out! Not so soon and not like this! Damn the Widow! I’d asked her not to speak! Now he will send me back home to be a widowed mother alone in the quietness of my parents’ house and the sharp stigma of the loose widow. No one back east will truly believe the child is Henry’s. They might think I went wild in the west.
No one knows me here. There is some safety in it, and I must convince him to let me stay. And I must tell him the same lie. There’s no other way. Everyone here in Flats Junction must think I was as married and settled as I say. And the Doctor too – what would he think having hired such a loose woman? The shame of my brief, quick desire for Theodore, and the self-loathing I carry rises up and tries to choke me. The Doctor walks away from me, fuming and vibrating with anger and I feel I must follow him to hear my fate.
Review by Amber: I am going to give this book 5 stars. It’s a wonderful read and the author draws you back into the 1880’s. The novel shows how hard it is for a woman to be anything but a wife, and how one’s reputation can define them. I love Jane, she is a strong person and faces all her difficulties with courage and guts.
Moving from Boston to the Dakotas is a large change for her, along with the housekeeping job she has applied for and accepted. Jane wanted a change and she got it. The new world she finds herself In has made her find courage and strength she didn’t know she had. Jane is not really been a housekeeper, she has had her own household to take care of but they did have a maid come in once a week to help with the heavier cleaning. Now, she is the one that is expected to clean floors, kill the mice, and do laundry.
Then there is the doctor Pat, a man after my own heart. Kind and generous, he takes an interest in her health right away and when he finds out she’s pregnant he makes sure that he does all the heavy lifting. He was also looking forward to having a child in his house, even if it was not sired by him.
When Jane goes back to Boston, the reader really does get to see the differences between her life as a housekeeper and her life as a cook for a wealthy family. Boston’s manners, and a women’s reputation mean everything. When she is being courted there needed to be a chaperone at all times. There was no touching allowed and certain subjects were not talked about. Back in the Dakotas, courting was more direct. Small touches were allowed along with no chaperones.
I am recommending this book for anyone that is interested in society back in 1881 and how women were treated back then.
Award and RaffleCopter: Sara Dahmen will be awarding a set of American-made pure maple wooden spoons from the author’s kitchenware line (www.housekeepercrockery), valued at $60 (international) to a randomly
drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Author Bio and Links: Sara Dahmen is a metalsmith of vintage and modern cookware and manufactures pure metal kitchenware in tin, copper and iron. She is the owner and operator of House Copper & Housekeeper Crockery: American-made cookware created with pure and/or organic materials featured in Food and Wine and Root + Bone magazines, among others. She has published over 100 articles as a contributing editor for Veil Magazine and writes for many book and review blogs. She has spoken at TEDx Rapid City in 2016, speaks across the country at multiple writer conferences such as the Writer’s Institute and RWA Nationals, and co-chairs the Port Washington Literary Festival since its inception in 2013. Prior to her writing gigs, Sara was a print, radio and TV producer before owning and operating a nationally award-winning event planning company for ten years. When not writing or sewing authentic clothing for 1830’s reenactments, she can be found hitting tin and copper at her apprenticeship with a master tinsmith, reading the Economist or hanging out with her husband and three young children.
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