Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review - The Way West

This year I'm reading the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, and I recently finished the 1950 winner.

The Way West follows the adventures of a group of settlers from Missouri to Oregon in 1846. The wagon train is made up of a wonderful group of characters from Dick Summers who's hired to guide the train to Mercy McBee, a pretty young lady traveling with her parents and numerous siblings. The main character, Lije Evans, is traveling to Oregon with his wife and 17-year-old son because he wants to see the area settled and part of the United States, keeping it out of British hands. Each chapter is told from a different traveler's perspective, which worked especially well for helping me understand the individuals and their motives for embarking on such a treacherous journey.

When I first checked this book out from the library I was a little disappointed to learn that it was the second book in a series of books written by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. I typically like to read books in a series in order, however my goal this year is to read some of the Pulitzer Prize winners. I thought if I didn't like the first book in the series, it might deter me from reading this one, so I forged ahead and read this one anyway. I truly enjoyed the book, so it may be that some day I'll go back and read the others in this series.

I especially enjoyed this look into the American West and the trials and hardships endured by the pioneers who settled our land. It's hard to image that on some days the wagon train only advanced eight miles, or maybe twenty miles on a good day with nice weather and level ground and plenty of water and no illness or Indian intrusions along the way. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and wants to learn more about the settlement of the western states.

So, that's 2 Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winners down, only 50-something left to go! :>)


  1. That sounds interesting, Melissa...When we visit the US I always say to Craig that if I had been one of the original pioneers I wouldn't have lasted a day!!
    Alison xx

  2. I've always been fascinated by the wagon trains - ever since I chose a trip to a museum for my birthday when I was about none and there was a real wagon on display. Sounds like a good series

  3. Every time we're on a road trip driving through wooded areas or mountains, we talk about what it must have been like to be a pioneer. I was born in Kansas, and those prairies must have been equally intimidating! Your reading goal is very impressive.

  4. I remember learning that the trains often only did five or six miles a day as they moved so slowly. The kids and I worked out how long it would take to do a trip to California from Philly and were really impressed. Glad you enjoyed the book.


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!