I first fell in love with this book when I was around 14, which honestly was probably too a little too young to be reading this book…LOL. It probably held the title of favorite book for many years and is still in my top five. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for several years and finally managed to work it in to my schedule. I was determined not to skip ahead or to just read the parts I knew I felt like reading – I was going to re-read the book in its entirety this time.
It was somewhat different than I remember. The last time I read it had to be probably over ten years ago and I know I skipped through a lot of it. The premise for the story is the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young girl captured by the Comanche and raised among them, eventually marrying a great chief and raising several children before being recaptured by her family. As a historical fiction, there is some creative license taken and her life among the Comanche pieced together by old passed down stories, history, research and imagination. The author builds a very real and believable life for the young girl and what it may have been like for her among the Comanche. I doubt it is how it actually happened, but that is not the point of historical fiction. What I had forgotten about, was how many secondary and even tertiary story lines are wound throughout the book. There are sections that follow the girl’s family, a US Marshall, a squad of rangers, other members of her tribe, and even from the perspective of an Indian chief of an enemy tribe. It sounds hard to follow, but the author wove it so seamlessly together it is not a problem. You get a whole variety of views, beliefs, events, and interactions from the time frame and what life was really like. Some of it is particularly brutal, some heart-breakingly sad, some joyful, and others just brutally honest everyday life.
You learn a lot about the time frame, Comanche life, Comanche politics, the fighting against the Indians, political moves and promise breaking in Indian politics, and the views and beliefs of several different types of people at the time. I find it a difficult, but rewarding read, even though it ends sadly. All the characters are relateable, reminding you of someone. The story line is easy to follow and makes sense. The events make you emotionally invested in the book and the characters. With getting to see both sides of the time frame, it can be difficult to hate the various characters in the book.
I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Native American life, western history, classical fiction, or a historical story with a small romance in it. The romance is not explicit at all and is only alluded to once. Mostly it is just a heavily emotional book with characters who are extremely well-developed, a story line that builds strongly, and a book that will make you remember what was in it.