What I’m Reading: The Ride of Her Life

A blog reader suggested I read this book. It was over a year ago. I downloaded the book from Audible but then the book stayed in my library and I didn’t listen to it. Since my free online library kicked me out because I didn’t live in the county where the library was located, I lost Hoopla. Hoopla was my favorite way to listen to audiobooks and I was a little sad I can’t use it anymore. My local library uses Libby and honestly, Libby isn’t nearly as good.

That change took me back to Audible…and that took me back to my Audible library and I refound the book The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts.

The book is a biography but also a bit like a documentary. The author will tell the reader a section of Annie’s story. Then she will stop and tell the reader what was historically happening in the United States at the time of the ride.

So let me explain a little more. 63-year-old Annie is saddling up a horse, taking her dog, and leaves the state of Maine with the intention of riding to California. As she rides, she comes to a new portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. At that point, the author stops and writes about the roads and road conditions at the time. It’s interesting and very helpful in understanding the adventure as Annie would have experienced it. Initially, that wasn’t what I expected from the book, and initially wasn’t excited about it. I kept reading it and in the end can totally see why the author used that format to tell the story. Without those side notes a reader would not have appreciated all Annie did in accomplishing her dream to travel to California.

Here is what Amazon had to say:
In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn’t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.

Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America’s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities—from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. She received many offers—a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. In a decade when car ownership nearly tripled, when television’s influence was expanding fast, when homeowners began locking their doors, Annie and her four-footed companions inspired an outpouring of neighborliness in a rapidly changing world.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.6 stars. I would give the book 4.4 stars. I very much enjoyed the book. If you like triumph over tragedy stories and like a bit of history, I think you’d enjoy the book.

Many thanks to the blog reader who recommended the book.

You can find the book HERE if you are interested.

6 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: The Ride of Her Life”

  1. Elizabeth Letts also wrote a book about Judy Garland and the story of the Wizard of Oz. It also is an interesting story.

  2. I use Libby, luckily I have access to Northern CA libraries and my county library. Maybe you have a similar availability? Also, are you aware that Libby has many quilting and sewing magazines to read? Great to see/read on tablet.

  3. I loved this book! I thought it was a wonderful story about how this woman triumphed over so many obstacles in her dream of seeing the Pacific Ocean. The side story of her horses and that little dachshund, was just heart warming. She was gifted a second horse in Kentucky and Annie and her three animals kept on heading west. The fact that this wasn’t fiction but a true story of a woman who had not been given very long to live if she stayed in Maine, is definitely worth the read.

  4. hi Jo, i have access to Libby through 2 libraries where i live. I do follow up on your suggestions and am delving into books by William Kent Krueger right now. I am a “real” book reader but have begun to download books through Libby to read on my ipad. Some of your suggestions sadly aren’t available to read but they are as audible books! I got a pair of wireless head phones and am now listening while i sew instead of watching TV. You have great taste in books and i love your suggestions. As another commenter noted you can “borrow” quilting magazines on Libby too!

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