Title: One Glorious Ambition
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
2013, Waterbrook Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
One dedicated woman...giving 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.
This book was very slow moving for me. I had a hard time with the main character of Dorthea Dix. To be honest, I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to finish it. The author is trying to bring to life the historical figure of Dorthea Dix, but I have decided this is a person I just cannot quite understand.
The life of Miss Dix has been broken down into three parts in this book. Her younger days as a girl who was basically abandoned by her family and sent to live with relatives and when she is trying to find her purpose in life. Early on she decides not to get married and I could never quite figure out her reason why.
The second part is when she's middle-aged. She travels abroad and also seems to find her God ordained purpose. I never got to the third part, but I'm guessing it covers the portion of her life when she works with the nurses during the Civil War (I did Google the real life of Dorthea Dix... I wasn't super excited about it there either).
I'm not sure exactly what was more of a turn off for me. I felt like Dorthea was a very strong and capable woman, but was constantly second-guessing herself. So much so, that I found her very pathetic to read about. She also worked herself until she was ill - several times. I just couldn't understand this (the author did try to address this, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it). If Miss Dix was so concerned about taking care of others, she needed to learn a little self-control when it came to keeping herself healthy.
Miss Dix WAS amazing in the way she advocated for the mentally ill and the poor and suffering. If the depiction of her in this book is accurate, she was constantly mixing with those people who were probably deemed as untouchables. She worked hard to get these people into tolerable living environments and raised funds for new hospitals and institutions.
I think this book was a good narrative of the life of Dorthea Dix. It just wasn't the book for me and I'm sorry I couldn't get through it.
Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine.