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The Good Journey: A Novel Paperback – November 12, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on archival letters of Mary Bullitt and military studies of her husband, Gen. Henry Atkinson, this ambitiously researched, gracefully narrated first novel by lawyer and law professor Gilchrist traces an exciting time during the Black Hawk wars of the mid-19th century on the Missouri prairie and has already been optioned for a film. After only three days of courtship, the notoriously difficult Louisville belle marries the autocratic older general and for the next 16 years they make their home at the unpromising outpost of Jefferson Barracks, Mo., where he is stationed to enforce federal Indian regulations. These include trying to keep the Sauk, led by the proud, relentless Black Hawk, pacified, while at the same time taking their land. There is also a personal vendetta to settle between General Atkinson and Black Hawk, involving murders each man had committed, and the novel, related in flashbacks by the recently widowed, outspoken Mary, becomes her attempt finally to understand her emotionally remote husband. Her story is told by stages and dated in a diary, as Mary grows from new bride to young mother to maturing woman, always reflecting on her volatile relationship with her husband as he, in turn, is altered by the pursuit of his nemesis. Gilchrist incorporates first-person accounts by tertiary characters such as Bright Sun, the general's Indian interpreter and possible romantic admirer, and Mary's young cousin Philip, both of whom accompany the general on his campaigns. Characters are fleshed out to the smallest detail, from the physical torments of soldiers in the field to Black Hawk's stuttering fury. Gilchrist has managed to create a work that is both historically riveting in the manner of 18th-century captivity narratives and as deft in the depiction of a beleaguered marriage as C.S. Godshalk's Kalimantaan.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Another highly touted debut by a lawyer, although Gilchrist seems to be keeping her day jobAfor now. Mary Bullitt finds herself betrothed to Gen. Henry Atkinson, to whom her mother has just introduced her, and heading out to conquer the great American West. The book has already been optioned for film.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743223772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743223775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,743,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Melnick on June 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mary Bullitt met General Atkinson in Louisville, Kentucky in January, 1826. Henry Atkinson was an acquaintance of Mary's Uncle William back in St. Louis. When William Clark described his niece to Henry, he wished to meet her. Mary, considered a spinster at the ripe old age of twenty-two, considered the General rather old for her tastes at first, since he was in his forties, but she gradually warmed to the idea of marrying him, and later in the month of January, she married him and traveled west to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
Though raised in much wealth, Mary seemed to adapt quite adequately to her new home, though at first she unintentionally insulted the General by asking if the home belonged to the servants she brought with her from Kentucky. She also participated in the planting, an activity that she had never performed before in her life. At the center of the Atkinsons' lives were the ongoing campaigns to find the Indian Black Hawk with whom the General held a twenty-some-year feud. The General did his best to settle matters peacefully between the Indians and whites but was met with much resistance from the militia as well as the powers that be in Washington.
While Mary finally declared her love for the General, he had a wall around his heart which she rarely seemed to penetrate. Further complicating their relationship was the appearance of a beautiful young Indian translator by the name of Bright Sun. The General's relationship to Bright Sun was a constant thorn in Mary's side.
Steeped in actual historical events inspired by real people, this novel makes the west in the early 1800's come alive. Sparing no punches, Ms. Gilchrist tells it as it really was, rampant dysentary among Army troops as well as tragic deaths from cholera.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Paula Hess on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books that rarely comes along. Micaela takes your hand from the first page and with every word there after, you both want to devour this book and savor each word all at the same time. The story of Mary, a rather spoiled southern belle who is rapidly in danger of becoming a spinster, and Henry, a general who at 40 has decided he wants her for his bride becomes a truly breathtaking tale. Mary weds Henry and he takes her to the western frontier. The book tells the story of Mary becoming a woman and learning to love this stranger who is her husband. It is also the story of the beginning of the end of the indians who are also a mystery to Mary, especially her husbands relationship with Black Hawk and a female indian translator. For Mary to truly understand herself, her husband and his relationship with these two indians is the making of a truly great novel. One that after even 400 pages seems to end too quickly. I really loved this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved it, I enjoyed every minute of it and I didn't want it to end. From the Prologue to the Epilogue, this book moved you into the past with a realism that touches all your senses. Using words long forgotten in the English language, her descriptive narrative not only puts you in a time and place long ago, but you can feel it! You know exactly what the General's coat feels like. You can smell the spices, herbs, foods, the trees and flowers. You can hear the sound of a knife cutting into flesh. And you struggle with your own moral since of what was between the white man and the Indian at that time and place in history, while you live this life with Mary and Henry who are so very human. My favorite part is the prologue, I went back and read it again when I finished the book because it just blew me away how she describes Mary preparing her husbands body for burial. What a book!! Good job Micaela!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
From the moment you begin reading this historical novel, you'll be pulled into the lives of Mary Bulliett and General Henry Atkinson. The story between this husband and wife is beautifully written and described with such great detail, you actually feel like you are there witnessing the daily struggles and lifetime tragedies these two extraordinary characters experience. The book is based on real people and events, which occurred in the early 1800's - a time when Indians and white man battled over the land. Ms. Gilcrest has done an excellent job telling their story while at the same time developing their very authentic personalities. A truly well written, great book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is perhaps one of the most intense historical fiction novels I have read in a long time. It is so well-written, that I keep glancing through my Native American Indian history books to gather more information about Black Hawke and General Henry Atkinson. This novel really has renewed my interest in Native American history.
Mary Bullitt agrees to marry General Henry Atkinson after knowing him one day. She moves from Louisville, Kentucky, to St. Lois ~~ at that time, a frontier-town in what was known as the West. This novel is based on Mary's journals. It is also a novel rich in details of life in the early 1800s to the mid-1800s. It also explores the question of Indian rights that were being violated at the time and other people's misconception of the Indian Wars.
Mary and her General kept me riveted through the pages and transported me back to the early beginnings of this country. It reminds me of man's greed ~~ to conquer all he sees and how others fight it. It brought me to the realization that life was tenous during those times ~~ as well as being more intense as well. The scenery descriptions and actual lifestyle habits of the times are so well-researched, that I actually felt like I was there as an observer.
This is a beautifully-written novel ~~ one to keep in your personal library. If you know of someone who is tenative about reading historical novels, start with this one. It is a guarantee to bring history alive in the reader's mind.
1-27-04
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