One Glorious Ambition: The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, a Novel
Q&A with Jane Kirkpatrick Q. What inspired you to write One Glorious Ambition? A. I'd read about Dorothea Dix as a young reader when biographies of women were hard to find. She was memorable for her passion and for being someone who could make … see full wiki
Dorothea Dix just wants a better life for her family, but the grandmother she turns to for help seems to have other plans, and soon the teenage girl finds herself “standing in the light of luxury” while feeling “she belonged in the shadows.”
There are so many things for Dolly to learn in Jane Kirkpatrick’s One Glorious Ambition. But Dolly’s own ambitions might not quite match those of the kindly relatives training her. Feeling “like milkweed in a pure pasture,” she stands inches taller than the other girls—taller too than the suitors they’re supposed to attract. But fashion dictates her hair, her clothes and her learning—fashions that the author has beautifully researched and brings to life in her words.
Readers who’ve never heard of Dorothea Dix will soon find themselves drawn to her, recognizing her importance in the beginning of schools for the poor, and her concern for the mentally ill—“As I am homeless, I will create homes for the insane,” Dorothea declares in one letter. Those who know the history, meanwhile, will delight in a vividly real recreation of time, character and place. And readers interested in the politics of the era will be endlessly fascinated by the author’s depiction of senators, and process.
Chapters are short and easily read. The writing’s smooth, with convincing dialog and delightful historical detail. And the hand Dolly uses in instructing her students is matched perfectly by the author’s light touch with wise lessons learned. Boston society, politics, Southern slavery, steamers to Liverpool, and a world where women’s choices are seemingly limited to men’s protection, all come to life in this story that spans continents, revives history, and invites both question and thought.
Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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