Walking West: A Novel

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St. Martin's Press, May 15, 1995 - Fiction - 308 pages
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About the great migration west, Edna Ferber wrote, "I am not belittling the brave pioneer men, but the sunbonnet as well as the sombrero helped to settle this glorious land of ours." These westering foremothers take center stage in Walking West, Noelle Sickels's remarkable first novel of women and their families on a grueling wagon train journey across the United States.

In the wet spring of 1852, a small band of Indiana farm families set off for California, lured west by the promise of a better life. The Muller party crosses treacherous rivers, slogs through mud and thunderstorms, and hauls wagons up and down mountains and over baking deserts in a seven-month journey across our raw continent.

Among them is Alice Muller, a reluctant traveler forced to leave home by her husband Henry's dreams of prosperity. But the Mullers greatly underestimate the hardships they will face, and it is ultimately Alice who must draw on the deepest reserves of body and soul to lead the little group of bone-weary emigrants through their final miles. In doing so, Alice changes from a dutiful farm wife into a woman capable of deep commitment, strong actions, and profound self-knowledge.

Noelle Sickels's novel takes readers across America--through Fort Laramie, Chimney Rock, the Black Hills, the Rockies, and the Sierras--and into the minds of her extraordinary characters. Offering a woman's perspective on a historical period more often portrayed through the male icons of cowboys, outlaws, and gold seekers, Walking West combines history and storytelling in a novel of astonishing authenticity and emotional power.


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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A solid, but not stolid, chronicle about the women—feeding, caring, making-do—who survive deaths, desertions, and hardship on a small wagon train from Indiana to California in 1852. Regretfully but ... Read full review


Title Page Acknowledgments
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24

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About the author (1995)

NoŽlle Sickels is the author of three historical novels. In Walking West, a cross-country wagon journey in 1852 is viewed through the eyes of the women emigrants. In The Shopkeeper's Wife, a restless wife and her maid are caught up in a murder trial in 1886 Philadelphia. In The Medium, a young woman on the World War II home front struggles with her troublesome psychic abilities. In all these books, characters wrestle with being true to themselves while engaging in complicated relationships with friends, families, and lovers and responding to the demands of their time in history and their time of life.
Sickels has published award-winning short stories in magazines and anthologies. A native of New Jersey, she is a retired teacher living in Los Angeles and Ojai, California with her husband and cat. Much of her non-writing time is happily taken up by her three-year-old granddaughter, who also likes good stories.

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