"A Clearing in the Wild" by Jane Kirkpatrick is based on the true story of Emma Wagner Giesy.
During the mid-1800's, Emma and her family were members of a separatist religous group called the Bethelites, who were led by a self-righteous man named Wilhelm Keil. The group lived in a communal way and their mission was to convert others into the colony.
The story begins with the marriage of Emma to her husband, Christian Giesy, who was a successful recruiter for the Bethelites. This marriage took place without the approval of Herr Keil who opposed their relationship primarily because of Emma's outspoken and head-strong ways. Because of this, Emma was sent with her husband and eight other scouts to the Oregon Territory to find a new location for the commune. They found a new location they believed was where God wanted them to be and worked diligently to prepare it for the others' arrival, enduring much hardship personally. Upon the group's arrival, Herr Keil publicly berates Christian and the other scouts as he can find no good thing about the land.
While Christian questions his leadership, Emma encourages and helps to find ways for those who stay behind to not only survive but to thrive. Her willingness to try new things, listen and learn from others including Native Americans, opens doors to a new, but different, future.
Although I thought the roles of the women in the book were oppressive, I believe they were accurate. Herr Keil's character, I thought, was particularly pompous and he had a double-standard when it came to possessions and actions. I could relate to Emma's feelings about the man and silently rooted for her whenever she would voice concerns regarding him to her strong, yet somewhat docile, husband.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by WaterBrook Press in exchange for my honest opinion.