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A Gritty Pioneer Tale of Manifest Destiny -an Editorial Review of "A Profitable Wife"

Book Blurb:

Embark on a captivating journey with Kat Christensen’s novel—a narrative that breathes life into the pages of American history.

Set against the expansion of a nation, from the aftermath of the War of 1812 to the era preceding the Civil War, this story ushers you into a world teeming with romance, jealousy, murder, and the unyielding spirit of survival.

Meet Easter, a formidable young woman who carves her homestead from the 1830s American Northwest frontier. With the fires of Manifest Destiny as a backdrop, Easter’s tenacity and resilience are tested amidst a young nation’s political turmoil and societal upheavals.

This vivid tale transports you back to a time where the foundation stones of the modern United States were laid. Witness iconic historical figures such as Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Blackhawk, and many more, through Easter’s eyes—a testament to an era where politics, much like today, were intense and vehement.

As Easter navigates through the unrelenting trials of pioneer life, readers are pulled into a world of passion and peril. Easter’s journey from the Mohawk Valley to the American Northwest is one marked by love, betrayal, and the haunting echo of murder.

Reviewers are saying:

"Historical fiction gold... Highly recommend!"

"A stunning story of a tougher than nails woman..."

"...Fascinating: full of joy, triumph, perseverance and tragedy... A great read!"

"A unique voice in historical fiction..."

"A captivating story that seamlessly blends fiction with historical events, taking the reader on a fascinating journey..."

Edtiorial Review:

"A Profitable Wife" is a captivating story that seamlessly blends fiction with historical events,

taking the reader on a fascinating journey through the life of the protagonist, Easter Malinda

Hackley. The author, Kat Christensen, succeeds in creating an authentic atmosphere,

enveloping the narrative in the tumultuous events of 19th-century American history.

The book begins with a family tale passed down through generations, detailing Easter's

mixed origins. This story serves as a starting point for exploring her life and adventures

against the backdrop of significant events of the time.

Easter Malinda Hackley is portrayed as a strong and resilient pioneer who lived during the

expansion of the American West. The author highlights the historical aspects of the era,

including political changes, territorial expansion, and conflicts with indigenous populations.

Well-researched and presented details bring to life the vibrant atmosphere of that period.

Although many ancestors are mere placeholders in our family tree, Easter Malinda Hackley has notoriously been remembered by many of her descendants, including my grandmother, leaving us all to wonder about the circumstances. Not only do countless descendants share this story, but James Whitcomb Ellis also immortalized this and other nefarious events in his 1910 Iowan History of Jackson County, thus confirming the family tale. Regardless of family lore, historical facts show us that Easter Malinda Hackley was a scrappy pioneer, a survivor, and a successful human being. Amidst wild adventures in the Midwest she gave birth to fourteen children and raised thirteen to adulthood. Her offspring went on to produce their own countless progeny, some of which led both adventurous (nefarious) lives of their own. As they say, the branch does not fall far from the tree.”

A notable aspect of the book is how the author introduced warnings and disclaimers about the

fictional nature of the story and liberties taken in constructing the narrative: “This novel is a

work of fiction inspired by the historical figure Easter Hackley with pivotal moments in history woven into the timeline. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,

businesses, organizations, events, or locales is purely coincidental or used fictitiously.

However, readers are encouraged to envision their own ancestors as part of this tale.”

This provides the reader with a clear perspective that "A Profitable Wife" is a work of historical

fiction and not an authentic historical document.

The book explores cultural assimilation, confrontations with indigenous populations, and the

struggle for survival in a hostile environment. Central themes include family relationships,

survival in a challenging environment, and the exploration of the complexities of pioneer life.

Drama and mystery are added through dark relationships and tragic events presented in the


The novel introduces Philo Hackley, a war veteran returning home and desiring to resume his

pre-war life. However, events take a complicated turn when Sooleawa and Easter, two native

women, enter his life. These characters bring an intriguing and tense element, especially with

the appearance of a malevolent Spirit Bear named Ya’kwahe.

The detailed description of the relationship between Philo and Sooleawa, as well as the tragic

impact of her loss, adds depth to the story. The vivid portrayal of the encounter with the Spirit

Bear and the moment Philo finds Sooleawa dead introduces elements of mystery and

dramatic tension.

As the story unfolds, there is a time jump of ten years after Philo's return from war. Now,

Thomas Wallace, an apparently different character, takes center stage. The narrative seems to

weave together multiple families and generations, creating a complex panorama of these

people's lives.

The conflict between Thomas and Peelers adds a new dimension to the story, highlighting

social tensions and struggles for resources and rights in the specific historical context. Details

about the Irish perspective and the confrontation with British authorities add thematic depth.

At one point, the story turns to Philo, observing as his daughter, Easter, grows into an

attractive young woman. Social relationships and political perspectives in Herkimer are

vividly illustrated, and the arrival of Senator Martin Van Buren adds further interest to the

community. Easter, determined to live her life independently and adventurously, decides to

head west, inspired by Andrew Jackson's vision and the fever of expansion into the unknown

territories. Her journey west is marked by events that test her courage and resilience.

The story continues to explore the destinies of the characters in the context of historical

events such as presidential elections, conflicts with Native Americans, and westward

expansion. It also highlights aspects of family life, interpersonal relationships, and the will to

build one's own future in a ever-changing landscape.

The action returns in time, twelve years after Easter and Will's arrival in Ohio, when Easter

Conklin, Will's wife, is presented as a remarkable woman, skilled in negotiations, and capable

of ensuring the success of their farm. Will is also surprised by her abilities and achievements,

acknowledging her as a profitable wife:

A profitable wife surely was something he had not even mused about. Knowing all he knew about her background when they’d married, he had anticipated a sturdy pioneer wife and partner in Easter. Survival in these parts proved easier than most thought. Wild food was plentiful and sustaining a family on the frontier was attainable with determination and grit. Surpluses to sell, coin, and men for hire were scarce. Easter had blessed him with three strapping sons who soon would be sturdy farmhands and

four scrappy, hardworking daughters, all blessed with robust health. She had proven herself to be very savvy at trading and was pretty much self-sufficient. She had far surpassed his expectations, although it was obvious she did not realize it; indeed she had become a cornerstone of their farm’s success. He gazed down at her with a tender, possessive smile, and drew her head against his chest, caressing her hair. It carried the scent of hay and wildflowers, which never failed to arouse him. Easter was a profitable wife, indeed.”

The novel highlights the evolution of their relationship and Will's appreciation for his wife's

essential contribution to the family's success. Changes in the lives of the main characters are

evident through the detailed description of various key moments, such as their river journey

and encounters with various characters that influence their destiny. Each episode seems to

bring new challenges and opportunities for the Conklin family.

Following Abram Bartholomew's tragic death and Easter's return to the Conklin farm, a cloud

of whispers and speculation descended upon the community. Mary's sorrow over her

husband's unusual hunting accident was palpable, yet uncertainties lingered, giving rise to

various rumors. The circumstances surrounding Abram's demise remained veiled in secrecy,

leading some to ponder the potential involvement of the Nauvoo gang. While Mary grieved,

her father, Will Conklin, displayed an unusual calmness, bordering on smugness. Easter, a

respected figure in the community, observed the unfolding drama with a discerning eye. The

dynamics within the Conklin family hinted at hidden tensions, leaving the community in a

state of uneasy speculation about the events that unfolded during those critical days.

After numerous trials and overcome obstacles, Easter finally discovers a haven of peace on

the hill overlooking Galena. In a reflection on love and regrets, she whispers a gentle apology

to the wind, forgiving Will and acknowledging the need to move forward. The novel thus

explores the complex and often painful journey of Easter Conklin, offering the reader a

profound glimpse into the character's soul and a future full of uncertainties.

She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, and willed it to be so; there it was—the pain subsided. In her heart, Easter knew the truth would return in full force to knock her back down. But for now, she would just indulge these thoughts, feel Will’s invisible arms hold her like he did back when their marriage was young, and just remember the love… At last, she whispered softly to her audience of wildflowers, gently flowing waters, and the sun setting over the golden Galena hills, “I forgive you…”

I also appreciate how the characters are built and developed as the action progresses. The

changes and maturation of the characters bring intriguing authenticity and depth to the whole

story. The author captures the complexity of the main character's emotions, from regret for a

tumultuous past to the desire to return to happier times in her marriage.

The novel "A Profitable Wife" proves to be not just a journey into the past of the American

West but also an introspection into humanity, with all its complexities and nuances. For those

passionate about historical fiction, this book offers not only a well-constructed story but also

an authentic glimpse into the souls of the characters, intertwined in a veil of uncertainties and

revelations. Thus, "A Profitable Wife" remains a recommended, captivating, and profound

read, sensitively marking the intricacies of life's paths in a period full of challenges and



“A Profitable Wife” by Kat Christensen receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit


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