One Thousand White Women (Review)

I received from my book club a gift card to Better World Books and went to shopping. To get a bigger bang for my buck, I dug through the virtual bargain bin where the lovelies are priced at around $3 a piece. Who can resist?! I came across this one and was intrigued. I figured, if it was bad, I could put it in the pile of books that I was willing to part with the next time I purged my bookshelf (I hate it but it has to be done sometimes).

My first concern, right from the beginning, was how Cheyennes were going to be portrayed. I was worried this was going to be full of stereotypes and misinformation. Now, I am no expert on how the Cheyennes lived, but I did feel like this was a little skewed from a white perspective. Early on, all of the tribe are referred to as “savages” and “heathens,” but I kept reading because, unfortunately, that was how white people thought of them at that time. So, I filed that away as a historical detail, but I had hoped while the novel progressed and these white women integrated themselves into the tribe, the terminology would change. Unfortunately, it didn’t and that upset me a bit. May became a Cheyenne in the end, but she still used the same term and even refers to herself as a “squaw,” which, correct me if I’m wrong, I thought was an offensive term. I just thought by the end of the novel, they would be accepted by the white women in a way that changed their vocabulary, but I was wrong.

I loved some of this story, though, like how the Cheyennes showed such respect for the land and the animals. If only we knew then what we know now, right? I liked watching the women learn to interact with these strangers and not only observe their ways but adopt them as well. There were some beautiful visuals as well that made me miss the days I’ve never seen of more fields and forests rather than concrete and strip malls. The kind of landscape rarely seen outside of a photography or history book now ad I appreciated the detailed imagery.

The accents gave me grief, though. I’m all for accentuating character traits, like accents, but this was a little overdone. I didn’t like the italics to add even further emphasis to the “vis/sviss” and etc. I would have preferred the emphasis on the characters themselves because that would have created an accent in my mind without the need for any phonetic spellings. I thought it distracted from the dialogue, but that is a personal preference.

This wasn’t a horrible book, by any means, but it wasn’t something I would read again and recommending it would be a little rare. I think if you would like to transport yourself to the time before we stole land from the Cheyennes and other tribes, this could fit the bill. It was entertaining, but unfortunately just fed my current 3 star slump.

Reviews also available on Goodreads.



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