Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick REVIEWED

 About the Book:

In 1853, Abigail Scott was a nineteen-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her--and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote.

Based on a true story, Something Worth Doing will resonate with modern women who still grapple with the pull between career and family, finding their place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices when competing in male-dominated spaces.

About the Author:

Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than 30 books, including One More River to CrossEverything She Didn't SayAll Together in One PlaceA Light in the WildernessThe Memory WeaverThis Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Caesar. Learn more at

My Thoughts:

"Relationships were so unpredictable, and she longed for certainty - certainty she could control." (p. 153)

Abigail Scott Duniway is a name I was unfamiliar with, but is now one I'll not soon forget.  The later part of the 1800's and early part of the 1900's were not easy for anyone, but women seemed to bear the lion's portion of every aspect of family life.  They had little hope of survival at all without a man, and the burden to provide children, and lots of them, was something many didn't survive. Abigail nearly didn't, and somehow I think this was the genesis of her understanding that she had a greater purpose in life than bearing children. 

Kirkpatrick allows the story to unfold naturally through life circumstances, and Abigail's longing for more - more freedom, more autonomy, more ingenuity, more life - keeps her going through all of life's struggles.  It's not long after the harsh reality of the Oregon frontier strikes a few blows that Abigail knows with certainty that is the right to vote - to have your voice heard makes all the difference.

Words become Abigail's voice, her weapon, her wealth as she becomes an active suffragette.  This comes to her over time, and through many avenues of hard work and determination.  She knows beyond a doubt that her husband, Ben, is the greatest source of strength, because he always supports her with a level-headed and calming presence.  She always knew how blessed she and her children were to have him in their lives.

I can't imagine pursuing something for four decades, but Abigail does and lives long enough to see her work come to fruition.  She experienced a lot of heartache and loss along the way, but she never turned aside.  She always struggled relationally with a lot of folks, and she was a bit of a control freak, but those qualities allowed her to pursue her cause tirelessly.  Oh that we all could live our lives so filled with purpose!

Thank you Jane Kirkpatrick for bringing Abigail to vivid life!  This has been an inspiring story to read and enjoy!