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The Resilient Women of Fort Snelling - an Editorial Review of "The River Remembers"

Updated: May 30, 2023

Book Blurb:

Samantha Lockwood, Day Sets, and Harriet Robinson come to Fort Snelling from very different backgrounds. It’s 1835 and the world is changing, fast, and they are all struggling to keep up. After she refuses another suitor he’s chosen for her, Samantha’s father banishes her to live in the territory with her brother. He, too, tries to take over her marriage plans—but she is determined to find her own husband, even when her choices go awry.

Day Sets demands that her white husband create a school to educate their daughter, supporting her father’s belief that his people must learn the ways of the white man in order to ensure the tribe’s future. Until events prove her father wrong.

Harriet’s life in the territory is more like that of a free person than anywhere she’s lived. She even falls in love with Dred Scott and dreams of a life with him. But they are both enslaved, and she keeps being reminded of how little control she has over her own fate.

As their cultures collide, each of these three women must find a way to direct her own future and leave a legacy for her children.

Releasing June 27, 2023

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Author Bio:

I have always loved to write stories. Somewhere I have a story written in crayon on lined newsprint paper from elementary school. It's about a pig. I know that because there's a pink circle with a curly pink tail. My stories have evolved quite a bit since then!

I wrote secretly for many years, through middle school, high school, and college. I became a teacher and remember telling my sixth graders, "Everyone has a story. Of COURSE you can write it! You need perseverance first, to finish it. Then we'll talk about making it better." Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I should practice what I preached. So I finished On a Wing and a Dare, which I'd been working on for five years. I was very proud of it. Beta readers ripped it apart. It took two more years of polishing before I published it.

Now I can say I write stories empowering unknown women in history. Bringing these voices to life is my passion. UNDER THE ALMOND TREES does this, as well as THE ALOHA SPIRIT and THE RIVER REMEMBERS.

Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and is a retired elementary school teacher. She has an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University, is Marketing Chair of Women Writing the West, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family.

Editorial Review:

The River Remembers by Linda Ulleseit is set in the mid-1830s and tells the story of three women who live very different lives and have very different experiences as their paths cross and their stories intertwine as they all find themselves at Fort Snelling on the Mississippi River in Michigan Territory. Samantha Lockwood has refused to marry the politician that her father has chosen for her and so her father has sent her west to live with her brother. Day Sets is an indigenous woman who has found herself married to a white settler who made promises he can no longer keep. She only wants the best for her child and her tribe but that will prove to be difficult. Harriet Robinson is an enslaved African who has been bought, sold, and gifted. After being gifted to a young married couple, they bring her to Fort Snelling in “free territory” on the western frontier of the Michigan Territory. Robinson demonstrates the experiences of an enslaved woman during this time period as she falls in love with Dred Scott and learns to navigate her life in a new way and a new place. These three women represent the white women, indigenous women, and enslaved women that traversed the frontier during this time. The author tells the story of these women beautifully in a way that will leave the reader invested in their stories.

The Mississippi River brings life and death, creation and destruction, nourishment and deprivation. It connects all animals, plants, mountains, and humanity. Anywhere you step into the water, you touch the very last drops of what has passed and greet the flow of what is to come.”

Ulleseit’s character development is very well done. She uses emotional appeals to create characters that readers can relate to, especially female readers. The three women included in this story, Harriet, Samantha, and Day are all three characters that most female readers will find to be all too relatable. Even though their backgrounds and experiences are vastly different, the emotions and situations they find themselves in are really representative of women everywhere. Another aspect of character development that is a wonderful addition to this novel is the strength, determination, and resiliency Ulleseit has put into each character. The characters represent strong females that are not always typical in novels set on the frontier or novels set in this time period. Another detail that makes the characters so intriguing is the relationship that develops between them even though they have little in common. Character development and imagery are two of the biggest elements of this book that make it so enjoyable to read. The imagery Ulleseit uses to describe the scenes and events make it for the reader to paint a vivid picture of what is happening in his or her mind. It also makes it very easy to become invested in the story right from the beginning. In addition to using sensory words to develop the characters and make them relatable, she also uses this form of imagery to help the reader paint a mental picture of Fort Snelling.

It still amazed Harriet that they could take off their aprons and just walk out of the kitchen all the way to the fort without telling anyone where they were going. For weeks, she’d looked over her shoulder, expecting to be caught escaping. Now she enjoyed the sensation of freedom.”

Ulleseit’s writing is superb and flows in a way that is easy to understand and follow. Readers should have no trouble avoiding confusion about the event, people, or places featured in The River Remembers. The novel does use an alternating point of view style that lets you see into the lives of each woman. There are clear shifts at the beginning of each chapter which signifies to readers which woman each chapter is about and that the chapter will be from her point of view. The writing style for each woman is similar so it is easy to jump from chapter to chapter and thus, storyline to storyline. Ulleseit uses this technique well but some readers may not prefer this writing style. The author has a great voice that comes through in her writing which also contributes to creating a relatable story. In addition to great writing, the novel is also well-proofread and free of grammatical errors.

The River Remembers is set in Michigan Territory and provides a unique perspective for this time period. Many books set in this era are based on areas further west such as Indian Territory in Oklahoma or Oregon Territory. Novels in this time period are often told from a male perspective so getting the perspective of three women from very different walks of life is quite unique. The author provides a really interesting alternative view of the frontier much different from what is usually depicted in literature. In addition to this unique view, she also shares a realistic and historically accurate look at frontier life during this time period. It is clear that the author put in extensive research and understands the nuances of this time and setting. The historic details are woven seamlessly throughout the novel without being overbearing for the reader. The book truly tells a story instead of just providing a history lesson. Readers will appreciate the historical detail that goes in The River Remembers while also enjoying the story.

Day Sets felt the sacred weight of the place. She didn’t even need the drumbeats of the dancers to echo the heartbeat of the Earth Mother in her very bones. Songs and dances were already being performed as Cloud Man’s band arrived. Cloud Man and Blue Medicine made their way to the cave to meet with other leaders while the feasting began on the bluff.”

The target audience for The River Remembers is those who enjoy historical fiction. Fans of frontier history, as well as those who enjoy a woman’s perspective, will enjoy this well-written novel. It is empowering for women as the book depicts strong and resilient female characters that will gain the empathy, respect, and love from the audience. The River Remembers will most likely be very popular with female readers as they can relate to the characters more easily than their male counterparts. The writing in the book is easy to follow and all of the historical elements are well developed and explained making this an excellent choice for those looking to read their first historical novel. Even those not familiar with this time period and setting should be able to easily understand The River Remembers.

Samantha’s eyes welled. She wanted to throw herself in his familiar arms, but dismay sobered her. He belonged to another woman. She’d lost her chance with him. Samantha swallowed hard to restore her dignity. James knew more about her past than anyone on the Mississippi. She would be foolish to ask him to help her, but there was no other choice. She had nowhere to stay, no money for food. And she had to get away.”

Life on the frontier in the 1830s was a harrowing experience for many as cities were built, forts were constructed, and lives were established but for the three women in The River Remembers it was both challenging and beautiful as they built their new lives at Fort Snelling and allowed their stories to intertwine. An unforgettable story of the resilience, determination, and friendship of women on the frontier, beautiful writing, and historically accurate details earn The River Remembers a five out of five rating. The author has done a fantastic job telling this story and readers will find themselves immersed in the story from page one.


The River Remembers” by Linda Ulleseit receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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