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A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (The Western Frontier Library Series) Paperback – December 15, 1975
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The daughter of a respectable English clergyman, Isabella Bird was a short, dumpy, 41-year old spinster in 1873 when she visited Colorado. She found there a bunch of people she mostly disliked, but a place -- Estes Park -- on which she lavished pages of Wordsworthian nature worship. She climbed Long's Peak -- no small feat of physical endurance -- described Denver, Colorado Springs, and other Colorado cities, and lived briefly the life of a pioneer ranchwoman in a mountain wilderness.
The reader should be aware of a romantic subtext not fully described in "A Lady's Life." Isabella met "Rocky Mountain Jim" Nugent, a famous desperado who she described as an "awful looking a ruffian as one could see." Jim became her guide and companion in Estes Park, but she only hints in her book at a romantic attachment. In letters to her sister in Scotland, she tells much more of the relationship and of Jim's ardour and his marriage proposal. Was she fantasizing? Was Jim, known as a ladies man, putting out a lot of Irish blarney to this less-than-glamorous gentlewoman? Or was his infatuation with her real? The relationship between the two is explored in several biographies of Bird. In any case, Isabella left Jim behind and headed back to Scotland after a couple of months. Jim was killed in a gunfight a few months later by another man Isabella had known. A romantic triangle? Who knows?
With a story like this -- and a backstory of frustated love and gunfights -- "A Ladies Life in the Rocky Mountains" can hardly fail to be fascinating.Read more ›
Because I live in Colorado, I recoginize and travel through many of the places she describes. Just this weekend as we traveled along Highway 67, my husband and I remarked on the likelihood, that this was the same route she'd taken out of Colorado Springs.
Her accounts lend life to the grey, weatherbeaten cabins, abandoned roads and rusting rails that we see. Even though many parts of Europe and the US were relatively modern at the time of her adventures, it is surprising to read just how primitive and precarious was the life of many Colorado settlers.
Even if you aren't from Colorado, read this book to become aquainted with a Victorian woman who found a way to live life fully. Read it to learn about life in the west. Read it just because it's a good read.
If you are reading on horseback, as Isabella Bird did, this is perhaps the ideal book to carry with you. She was a woman used to the English-style horse with its Ascot breeding and high carriage. What she found in Colorado were, naturally, the horses of the West, more perfectly adapted to the mile-high atmospheres, but slung somewhat lower than anything she's been used to and slightly swaybacked. Bird adapted quickly, and the fun of her autobiography is to see her taking in her stride a series of calamities and hardships that would have Job complaining bitterly! No matter if it's an insect infestation or tumbling right through a sheet of ice into zero degree river chills, for Isabella Bird it's all part of a day's fun. Travel writing in the 19th century was, of course, the leading genre of prose. From no other source were English-speaking readers able to find out more about other people's lives, and the curiosity was immense.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being from Colorado, this book was very interesting. A lady with such spunk and a pioneer spirit! She was very brave and able to do all this on her own with a good horse. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Phyllis Wright
I was very happy with this purchase. after a vacation to Colorado and seeing the Rocky Mountains I am in awe of Isabella Bird. Read morePublished 4 months ago by judy
This is one of the best books of any kind that I have ever read. The author has a captivating writing style that conveys thousands of details in only a few words. Read morePublished 4 months ago by gotta_hava_dog
very adventurous and interesting especially as we drive through areas that she went.. under incredibly different circumstances!Published 5 months ago by dinahj
What a tale! Incredibly adventurous woman. I'm envious of her train ride and who beautiful Colorado was before taken over and trashed by European settlers.Published 12 months ago by normally a happy guy
The descriptions of the landscape of Colorado are so beautiful and it let's you imagine what it was like before the 1999's. What a courageous woman she was.Published 14 months ago by Roseanne Frauens
The book is poorly printed. About half of the pages contain text that is not evenly saturated and therefore unpleasant for reading:( I knew the content was historical- but I did... Read morePublished 16 months ago by lesley silvestris