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A Life Very Well Lived and an Inspirational Story - an Editorial Review of "Katherine's Remarkable Road Trip"


Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip by Gail Ward Olmsted book cover

Book Blurb:


"Kate makes me want to take a road trip. She's lovable and charming, and her voice... SO GOOD." -Kerry Chaput, author of the Defying the Crown series


If you loved Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted, you'll absolutely adore Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip.


In the fall of 1907, Katharine decides to drive from Newport, Rhode Island to her new home in Jackson, New Hampshire. Despite the concerns of her family and friends that at the age of 77 she lacks the stamina for the nearly 300-mile journey, Katharine sets out alone. Over the next six days, she receives a marriage proposal, pulls an all-nighter, saves a life or two, crashes a high-society event, meets a kindred spirit, faces a former rival, makes a new friend, takes a stroll with a future movie mogul, advises a troubled newlywed, and reflects upon a life well lived: her own!


Join her as she embarks upon her remarkable road trip.


Katharine Prescott Wormeley (1830-1908) was born into affluence in England and emigrated to the U. S. at the age of eighteen. Fiercely independent and never married, Kate volunteered as a nurse on a medical ship during the Civil War, before founding a vocational school for underprivileged girls. She was a philanthropist, a hospital administrator, and the author of The Other Side of War: 1862, as well as the noted translator of dozens of novels written by French authors, including Moliere and Balzac. She is included in History's Women: The Unsung Heroines; History of American Women: Civil War Women; Who's Who in America 1908-09; Notable American Women: 1607-1950; A Biographical Dictionary; and A Woman of the (19th) Century: Leading American Women in All Walks of Life and figures prominently in With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula by Nancy Scripture Garrison.


Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/fQiQt


Author Bio:


Gail Ward Olmsted author photo

I enjoy writing about quirky, lovable women in search of their happy ever after. Second chances, do-overs, fresh starts: whatever you want to call them, our ability to reinvent ourselves is a beautiful thing.


My first visit to Sedona, AZ prompted me to start writing JEEP TOUR, my first novel. I fell in love with the red rocks and blue skies. My second novel is Guessing at Normal, a rock and roll love story. Driving on the Left is a romantic sequel of sorts to JEEP TOUR, based in Ireland. I decided to follow up Guessing at Normal with Second Guessing because I was looking for a 'happy ever after' for my main character Jill. Landscape of a Marriage is the mostly true story of park builder Frederick Law Olmsted and his late brother's widow Mary. Together they transformed the American landscape. My husband is a distant relative of Olmsted's and I was thrilled to write their story.


After writing a pair of contemporary novels with a legal twist: Miranda Writes (9/22) and Miranda Nights (7/23) I am back with a biographical novel about an amazing woman. Watch for Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip: 6/13/24!

A hopeless romantic, I am married to the love of my life. I am mom to two adults and two cats, and I enjoy reading, music, water sports and travel.


Editorial Review:


As the title suggests, Katharine’s Remarkable Road Trip is a truly remarkable read. It is a fictionalised account of the real Katharine Prescott Wormeley who held a myriad of jobs and roles such as a civil war volunteer nurse, hospital administrator, educator, author, translator, and philanthropist. The novel is set during a one-week period in October 1907 where the 77-year-old Katharine decides to move from Rhode Island to New Hampshire and is going on a road trip to her new forever home.


The real Katharine led a truly astounding life, especially for a woman growing up in the 19th century where inequality and limited opportunities for women were the norm. It is clear that Katharine’s rebellious nature propelled her through the many momentous occasions in her life. Her lack of desire for the safety of marriage, which was what was expected of her, is made clear based on the following sentiments, “I was blessed with—or cursed with, depending on the individual making the judgment—a stubborn streak of independence. The very idea that I would need to consult another person when it came to where to live and, more importantly, how to live was preposterous. What to eat and when? To travel abroad or not? To purchase a brand-new featherbed or simply replace the feathers in the existing one? No, thank you very much. I preferred the ability to make those types of decisions all on my own.” Not only is Katharine rebellious, courageous, and strong, but she is also kind, compassionate and wise. Throughout the road trip, Katharine encounters various people dealing with their own challenges and difficulties. Katharine’s advice, kindness, financial assistance, and quick thinking offer immense support ranging from saving a life to offering words of comfort to a new mum struggling with balancing her life, marriage, and newborn. Katharine’s altruism is beautifully captured in the following reflections that Katharine has on her own life, “I felt confident that I would leave this earth in a state better than I had found it, and there’s nothing better than that.”


The practical purpose of the road trip was due to Katharine wanting to live out the rest of her days in New Hampshire. However, there is another dimension to the trip whereby Katharine intended to clear her conscious with certain people, as depicted in the following quote, “Perhaps this was the real purpose of this trip of mine, I realized. I was running out of time, of that I was certain. If I could come to terms with my past and free myself to live out the rest of my days in peace, I would have succeeded mightily. Not to mention I could prove to myself and anyone who needed convincing that I was capable and self-sufficient enough to travel on my own. Doubters be damned!” The fiery spirit which she has retained at the grand age of 77 is just another aspect of her remarkable nature. Katharine’s strength, however, is truly tempered with a touch of softness as she makes the following whimsical statement about her trip, “In my mind, this trip was it, both my maiden voyage and my swan song.” Her poetic and kind heart make Katharine’s Remarkable Road Trip a very gentle and endearing read.

As Katharine made her way from one state to the other, as mentioned, she encountered some very brilliant and bizarre circumstances. It began with her visiting an old friend. While she was expecting pleasant conversation and a bed for the night, she received an unexpected proposal of marriage. She then continued her journey meeting a young woman struggling with her family life. After giving sound advice, she attended a fancy soirée where she gave a gift to a newly engaged couple whom she had never met before. Rather dramatically, she then saved a man’s life after her car broke down and a little girl called for assistance. She had luncheon with three young women who shared their ideas and visions of the future. After which she listened to the hopes and dreams of a Mr. Mayer who wanted to be a kingpin within the entertainment industry. She had coffee with another Kate and encouraged her in her love of reading, saved another man from choking and then finally had a meeting with a mysterious Mr. S which was the pinnacle encounter within the novel and a pivotal moment within Katharine’s life.


Overall, Katharine’s Remarkable Road Trip was a sweet story of an elderly lady with many accomplishments to her name enjoying herself on her journey. There was no high drama, however, it was a peaceful reminder of what the majority of life truly involves. Whilst there are high points and champagne celebrating moments, the majority of life is lived in between such moments and Katharine does a beautiful job of finding magic in the simple things, such as a well brewed cup of coffee. The novel is a lovely reminder of the power of a kind word and generous heart. It reminds readers to live in the present moment, do good deeds from a place of kindness, embrace spontaneity, and give without expecting something in return. In short, Katharine’s Remarkable Road Trip is a beautiful, poetic, and inspiring read.


Katharine was such an eloquent protagonist and a true beacon of light and wisdom. Some of the profound reflections she had included, “Count your blessings, ask for what you need, and have a happy life,” which she offered to the struggling mum. Her silent prayer to one of the young women with strong ideals was, “Don’t get bogged down by the minutiae, my dear girl. And while you’re at it, reach for the stars.” Finally, another quote which filled the heart with joy and whimsy was to the bookworm, Kate, “Don’t stop reading and dreaming, dear Kate. And trust me, you’re never alone.”


Furthermore, we appreciated how multidimensional Katharine was portrayed to be. While she had a litany of accomplishments, successful endeavours, and adventures as well as inner strength and a character brimming with confidence, she still suffered from moments of self-doubt as most people do. This inner turmoil is evident after she tells her sister about the marriage proposal which is met with hilarity, “When had living on my own suddenly turned lonely? Why was my receiving a marriage proposal a cause for hilarity? Why was I in the middle of a ridiculous road trip that no one, not even me at the moment, felt was a good idea?” These moments of vulnerability made her extremely relatable.


This was a book like no other. It was calm, peaceful, and thoroughly intriguing. There were a few encounters which felt a little contrived and overly coincidental. Moreover, some of the transitions between one encounter and another were a bit sudden which disrupted the flow of the story; however, overall, it was a magical read and justice was done to the real Katharine Wormeley. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the author for engaging in what was clearly thorough background research in the creation of this novel. Olmsted was able to integrate the details of Katharine’s vivid life, but more importantly, she was able to capture the essence of the person which made Katharine special, and that was her kind and compassionate heart.


*******


“Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip” by Gail Ward Olmsted receives 4.5 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 www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/book-awards/award-submission



1 Comment


Was privy to an early copy - a thoroughly enjoyable romp thru an amazing woman's life!

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