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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird

Isabella Bird's nonfiction account of her 1873 travels through the rugged, wondrous American West is full of her irresistible determination to discover; offers fascinating details of flora, fauna, and the people she encountered; and showcases her sparkling personality.

British Isabella Bird explored the wild, rugged western United States in the late 1800s, and she journeyed the challenging terrain in shocking solo fashion.

Through the vividly recounted adventures in this lively narrative nonfiction, Bird shares her many discoveries, difficulties, and wonders.

The book is built from letters Bird wrote to her sister (with some key notes added after the fact), which paint an unflinching account of her own occasionally dangerous missteps, her soaring hopes and deep connection to the stark mountains, and a sometimes-scathing social commentary related to Indians, class, ecological irresponsibility, and the dramatic inspiration she finds in nature.

Bird was an understated trailblazer with irresistible determination and feistiness. Her wonder-filled fascination with the flora, fauna, and characters she encounters in the west combined with her mix of no-nonsense practicality and ambitious traveling goals and incredible fortitude make for a captivating read.

I kept thinking what a delight Bird must have been, showing up after doggedly riding her trusty horse across the unforgiving Rockies--mountains whose stark beauty never failed to take her breath away--sauntering up to various cabins, campsites, and towns roughly dug into the rugged terrain, expecting adventure and goodwill and most often finding both.

I listened to the audiobook version of A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, narrated by the wonderful Clare Wille, courtesy of and Naxos Audiobooks.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If this book is down your alley, you might also be interested in the novels on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Great Historical Fiction Stories Set in the American West and Six More Great Historical Fiction Books Set in the American West.


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