Beneath the Bending Skies
In Montana, there is a lake called Lake Mary Ronan. This is her story.
Jane Kirkpatrick first discovered Mary Ronan on reading her memoirs, written down by one of her descendants. She’s a fascinating woman, and this book highlights the twists and turns of her life, from a girl in the mining towns of the west to the wife of a land manager in Montana, living among the Salish. The women of the west had to be strong, and Mary Ronan had both strength and grace, making her an intriguing figure to read about.
Judging from the author’s note at the end, it’s difficult to tell what makes the novel different from the memoir, besides the difference in genre. It seemed as though Kirkpatrick pulled Mary’s life wholesale from the memoir and added the imaginative flourishes a novelist is entitled to. Not having read the memoir myself, I can’t be certain, but it does make me wonder how necessary the novel is.
If nothing else, it will introduce many people to the life of a spectacular woman. I would recommend this book to anyone who grew up reading the Little House series and who still loves Laura.
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