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Walking West

Sickels, Noëlle

St. Martin's Press

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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Walking West
Chapter 1 
 
"BREAK OF DAY," Alice Muller said to herself as she stood at the kitchen window and poured a second cup of coffee.Alice had arisen in the dark. Today dawn did indeed seem to break in upon her while she worked. Alice was aware of no slow graying, only the end of the last night and the start of the first day, as if this morning had no time for a sentimental entry.Through the window, Alice could see Henry in the yard loading the big wagon. Yesterday he had half-loaded the supply wagon they'd be sharing with the Halls and taken it over to their farm.She
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sickels, Noëlle

  • Noëlle 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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    Walking West

    Sickels, Noëlle

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    St. Martin's Press

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