Friday, February 15, 2013


One Glorious Ambition:

The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, a Novel
  Jane Kirkpatrick

  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400074312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400074310

  • About the book . . .

    One dedicated voice to the suffering of many
    Born to an unavailable mother and an abusive father, Dorothea Dix longs simply to protect and care for her younger brothers, Charles and Joseph. But at just fourteen, she is separated from them and sent to live with relatives to be raised properly. Lonely and uncertain, Dorothea discovers that she does not possess the ability to accept the social expectations imposed on her gender and she desires to accomplish something more than finding a suitable mate.

    Yearning to fulfill her God-given purpose, Dorothea finds she has a gift for teaching and writing. Her pupils become a kind of family, hearts to nurture, but long bouts of illness end her teaching and Dorothea is adrift again. It’s an unexpected visit to a prison housing the mentally ill that ignites an unending fire in Dorothea’s heart—and sets her on a journey that will take her across the nation, into the halls of the Capitol, befriending presidents and lawmakers, always fighting to relieve the suffering of what Scripture deems, the least of these.

    In bringing nineteenth-century, historical reformer Dorothea Dix to life, author Jane Kirkpatrick combines historical accuracy with the gripping narrative of a woman who recognized suffering when others turned away, and the call she heeded to change the world.
    About the author . . .
    Jane grew up near Mondovi, Wisconsin, a little town not far from the Mississippi River. Her older sister Judy (now deceased) and younger brother Craig helped on the family dairy farm. Dozens of cousins lived within 50 miles providing the privilege of extended family memories. Most of the "Rutschow" clan remained in the Wisconsin-Minnesota area. Jane moved to Oregon in 1974 after completing her master's degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She worked in the disabilities field and became the director of the mental health program in Deschutes County and the first female president of the Oregon Community Mental Health Director's Association.
    Eventually, Jane "retired" to homestead and begin a new adventure in writing, working on the Warm Springs Indian reservation, growing watermelons, and attempting to grow grapes, alfalfa and cattle. The Kirkpatrick's new life included "clearing sagebrush and wrestling wind and rattlesnakes" while "homesteading" land on the John Day River in a remote part of Oregon known locally as Starvation Point.  "It was our 'rural 7-Eleven' since our home sat seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from the pavement" notes the author. Additionally, she worked for seventeen years as a mental health and educational consultant on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon with both Native American and non-Indian communities, a position she left in 2002.  Jane has two step-children.  Kathleen lives in Florida with her family and youngest granddaughter, Madison.  Matt lives in Wasco and works on the ranch full time when not looking after his family including his and Melissa's daughter, Mariah.
    In the fall of 2010, after twenty-six years on the homestead, Jane and Jerry, her husband of 35 years, made another life change moving back to Central Oregon near Bend. "There is a season for everything," Jane notes.  Their seasons on the ranch changed their lives and they leave with no regrets looking forward to new adventures in writing and life.
    A lively and humorous speaker, Kirkpatrick is a frequent keynote presenter for conferences, women's retreats,fund-raisers and workshops.  In addition to her historical fiction which dramatizes pioneer life, Homestead relates, with love and laughter, her own family's modern-day struggle to catch a dream in the Oregon Territory.
    Jane believes that our lives are the stories that others read first and she encourages groups to discover the power of their own stories to divinely heal and transform. Visit her blog for more information about her current projects and the privilege of following one's passion wherever the dreams may lead.   (Author's website)
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    Reader Review . . .
    Dorothea Dix knew well the pain of having a family member afflicted with mental illness.  Growing up in a home with a mother who was incapable of caring for her children and a father who was abusive, she carried those painful memories through life.  In early adulthood, she searched for a meaning or calling for her life, before beginning her lifelong crusade for humane treatment for those who suffered from mental illness.  Horrified by the sight of people who were unable to fend for themselves thrown into prison with  the worst of criminals, she traveled from town to town examining the conditions of jails, prisons, and asylums.  She took this crusade all the way to Washington, D.C., determined to alleviate the suffering of those who the Bible calls "the least of these".
    As a biographical novel, this stands tall.  Keeping in mind that as a novelization, the author has fictionalized conversations and small details when necessary, the basis of the story is factual.  Dates, historical figures, quotes from documents all add to the accuracy.  Although at times the timeline is a bit difficult to follow, it is a minor problem.
    The one-track minded crusade of Dorothea was surprising.  While she was appalled by the treatment of the mentally ill, she was not bothered by slavery and did not take part in the abolitionist movement.  This was mirrored in her followers who were slaveowners.  This leads one to wonder whether this was an attempt on their part to salve their consciences by helping one downtrodden group of society while holding down another, or were they truly blinded to the parallels of the two crusades, as well as the irony?
    This biographical novel will appeal to those who enjoy studying nineteenth century history and the reform movement of that era.
    4.5 stars
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group book review bloggers program . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



    "You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats." - Colonial proverb 


    Rebecca Graf said...

    Thank you. I'll have to look into this one.

    Michelle Cornwell-Jordan said...

    Nice review, sounds interesting, I love historical fiction:)


    Teddy Rose said...

    Great review. I love historical fiction and this sounds really good!

    Jane Kirkpatrick said...

    Thanks for the great review. As the Self-taught Cook I hope you enjoyed reading how Dorothea simplified her life with her simple meals - eaten often at 4:30 am! And I agree with you about the way in which she considered slavery vs the needs of the mentally ill. She was a very complex woman whom I hope I captured. I admire her greatly, even those flaws.


    Thank you for your comments. It was a really great book. I'm afraid I'll never simplify like Dorothea when it comes to food. LOL


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