The Ride of her Life
The Ride of Her Life
Publication date: June 1, 2021 by Ballantine Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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, they 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.
This book is a love letter to 1950s America. It is a nod to a time when simpler things were appreciated in earnest. Author Elizabeth Letts tells the wonderfully endearing tale of a woman who defied all odds to accomplish a goal. Annie had spent her entire life doing what was expected of her. When she reached an impasse and seemed to be out of options, Annie decided to do something for herself. This beautiful story takes the reader on the cross country journey along with Annie and her fellow travelling companions. Without knowing what to expect Annie trusted the American people in a way that was almost childish in its simplicity. Letts allows the reader to savor each moment of kindness and generosity that Annie encountered along her travels. Annie was the embodiment of strength, courage, endurance, and determination whether she wanted to be or not. More than anything, this book is a nostalgic read. For a non-fiction read you would be hard-pressed to find something with the same level of readability.
I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.