▫ O Pioneers! by Willa Cather Willa Cather's second novel tells the story of an immigrant family's struggle to save their Nebraska farm. Cather's placement of a strong and capable woman at the center of the story, her realistic depiction of life on the midwestern prairie, and her vivid portrayal of the immigrant experience at the turn of the century make O Pioneers! a true American classic.
▫ The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook In the 1890s Meg’s great-grandmother Hannah composed starkly revealing diaries of her life on the southwestern frontier. A generation later, Hannah’s daughter, Claudia, staked her academic career and reputation on these vibrant accounts, editing and publishing them to great acclaim. When an excavation on the old family property beckons a now-elderly and viper-tongued Claudia back to the fabled land of her childhood, Meg only grudgingly accompanies her, but when an unexpected discovery casts doubt on the journals, Meg finally succumbs to the allure of her great-grandmother’s story and ventures even deeper into Hannah’s life to unlock the mystery at the journal’s core.
▫ The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas Nobody was more surprised than Mattie herself when Luke Spenser, considered the great catch of their small Iowa town, asked her to marry him. Less than a month later, they are wed and setting off in a covered wagon to build a home on the Colorado frontier. Mattie's only company, aside from a taciturn and slightly mysterious new husband, is her private journal, where she records the joys and frustrations not just of frontier life, but also of marriage to a handsome but distant stranger.
▫ Lake in the Clouds by Sara Donati When Elizabeth Bonner, fresh from childbirth, learns that her husband, Nathaniel, and his father are imprisoned in Montreal, she embarks on a voyage to save them with her infant twins, her stepdaughter, freed slave Curiosity Freeman, and Mohawk Indian Runs-from-Bears. Before returning home, she loses and regains her children; sees her husband shot; witnesses piracy, kidnapping and murder; and sails to Scotland as part of a scheme to save the land of a laird. That all the events occur within only a few months seems incredible.
▫ One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus Committed to an insane asylum by her blueblood family for the crime of loving a man beneath her station, May finds that her only hope of freedom is to participate in a secret government program whereby women from the "civilized" world become the brides of Cheyenne warriors. What follows is the story of May's breathtaking adventures: her brief, passionate romance with the gallant young army captain John Bourke; her marriage to the great chief Little Wolf; and her conflict of being caught between two worlds, loving two men, living two lives.
▫ Remember the Morning by Thomas J. Fleming Set in pre-Revolutionary America, this novel tells the story of Catalyntie Van Vorst. A brilliant businesswoman, Catalyntie is also a troubled person who struggles to resolve the conflicts created by growing up captive in a Seneca Indian village. Deeply involved in her life is the beautiful, extraordinarily gifted black woman, Clara Flowers, who shared this captivity with Catalyntie. They also share a love for the same man.
▫ A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher Few writers have the good fortune to find an idea in their closet – a notebook, or a cache of letters – but that is what happened to Karen Fisher, and it forms the basis of her debut novel. From pieces of a journal written by an 11-year-old, Fisher weaves the story about Emma Ruth Ross and her family, the Mitchells, on the Oregon trail. "On April 15, 1847, we started from near Cedar Rapids, Iowa," little Emma wrote. "After traveling six miles we were detained by a snow storm. We made a company of 42 wagons.... Past Missouri River was a violent storm the wind caught one of our wagons and overturned it, a man who was our driver killed beneath it. He had been with us 3 days."
▫ A Mending at the Edge by Jane Kirkpatrick “Of all the things I left in Willapa, hope is what I missed the most.” So begins this story of one woman’s restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community. Based on the life of German-American Emma Wagner Giesy, the only woman sent to the Oregon Territory in the 1850s to help found a communal society, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick shows how landscape, relationships, spirituality and artistry poignantly reflect a woman’s desire to weave a unique and meaningful legacy from the threads of an ordinary life.
▫ The White: a novel by Deborah Larsen In her first novel, poet Larsen mines historical territory, reinterpreting the life of Mary Jemison, a white woman who was captured in 1758 by a Shawnee raiding party at her home in Gettysburg, Pa., while the rest of her family was murdered and scalped. In Larsen's retelling, 16-year-old Mary will not speak to her captors at first, trying to keep her mind blank of all thoughts other than escape, concentrating solely on her mother's last words to her: "Do not forget your English." Mary is eventually adopted by another tribe, the Seneca. Learning their language and culture, marrying and bearing six children, Mary ultimately finds herself at home with them and no longer feels the compulsion to escape or return to white society at all.
▫ A Man to Call My Own by Johanna Lindsey Set in the 1870s, Amanda and Marian's father dies in their hometown of Haverhill, Mass., and the twins are shipped off to Texas. Under the provisions of their father's will, they cannot claim their inheritances until they are married, and in the meantime they must live with their aunt, a widowed rancher nicknamed Red. Life on the ranch is much too rustic for Amanda, but Marian enjoys the country living – and her brushes with Chad Kinkaid. Hiding behind thick-lensed spectacles she doesn't need, Marian tries to deflect Chad, afraid that if she shows an interest in him, her mean-spirited twin will lure him away.
▫ High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller Forced to take a wife in order to inherit the family ranch, Rafe decides to send for a mail-order bride. He expects to be able to wed and bed her in short order, but strong-willed Emmeline Harding doesn't succumb to his rough-edged charm so readily. Though the two eventually grow to care for one another, secrets from Emmeline's past and Rafe's sheer stupidity threaten to tear them apart. Like the old hand that she is, Miller ably portrays the hardscrabble life of the American West and weaves a winding, winsome romance full of likable, if occasionally pigheaded, characters.
▫ Land of My Heart by Tracie Peterson Adventurers, families, outlaws...all driven west in the 1860s by a longing for endless blue sky along with wild and wide-open spaces. Tracie Peterson, from her own Montana home, paints an unforgettable portrait of this rich, rugged landscape, populated by strong and spirited characters. When Dianne Chadwick urges her family to move west to her uncle’s ranch in the Montana Territory, she has no idea that her new life in the rugged frontier – and even within her uncle’s home – will not be the idyllic adventure she expects. But first she has to survive the arduous wagon journey with the help of guide Cole Selby, whose heart seems to be as hard as the mountains he loves.
▫ Ruby by Lauraine Snelling Ruby Torvald and her young sister, Opal, have received an inheritance from their long-lost father, who left home years ago to seek his fortune in the Black Hills. When they leave their comfortable situation in Chicago and arrive at the mining town of Medora to claim their inheritance, the sisters discover that rather than the legacy of gold they expected, their father has left them a shocking bequest. Ruby’s bold determination in the face of scandal leads the reader on a journey both heartwarming and inspiring.
▫ These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner Inspired by the true story of the author's pioneering great-grandmother, this mesmerizing saga tells of the emotional, intellectual and romantic awakening of a spirited young woman of the late 19th century in the American West.