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Desert Wife (Living Voices of the Past) Audio, Cassette – Abridged, April 14, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It never loses its hold."--"Saturday Review of Literature"


"A beautiful and revealing book."--"New Republic"


"Mrs. Faunce makes an unforgettable picture of a trading store and a desert people."--"Books"


"[Hilda Faunce's] narrative bears authenticity on its face on every page. It deserves to stand high among the many books that have been written about the Indians of the Southwest because of the intimacy and extent of its firsthand knowledge of the Navajo, the simple, clear, straight-away style in which the story is told, the depth of its understanding and the justness of its appreciation of Navajo character."--"New York Times"
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Since he began his writing career in 1935, Frank Waters has published many books, among them "The Man Who Killed the Deer," "The Colorado in the Rivers of America" series, "Book of the Hopi," and "Mexico Mystique,"
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Living Voices of the Past (Book 3)
  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Beverlys, Ltd; Abridged edition (April 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967188520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967188522
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,370,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an avid reader of first-person accounts of the lives of women in the early West, I would call this one of the finest I've seen. It's an absorbing tale of a woman's adjustment to the bleak and initially terrifying emptiness of the desert Southwest where her husband sets up an Indian trading post at the time of World War I. She comes to love the place and to appreciate the culture and manners of her Indian neighbors, which at first seem so alien to her. Hilda Faunce gives us a fascinating direct view of the interaction of Indians and whites, which is only the more interesting from our current vantage point 85 years later. I was struck by her simple, straightforward, but eloquent writing style as well as by her courage and receptiveness in facing a very challenging experience. I felt as if I'd entered her world, and was sorry to leave when the book was over.
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Format: Paperback
Hilda Faunce Wetherill uses pseudonyms for some people and sites in this book and the editor does not call that to our attention. The name of the trading post she describes as 'Covered Water Trading Post' is actually Black Mountain Trading Post about 20 miles west of Chinle, Arizona. She refers to Lorenzo Hubbell Sr. as 'Mr Taylor' and his daughter, Barbard Hubbell Goodman, as 'Mrs. Gray.' She also refers to the Hubbell Trading Post at Ganado, Arizona, as 'lugontale.' (See pages 125-126 and 144-145, "Indian Trader- The Life and Times of J. L. Hubbell", Martha Blue,2000. Walnut, California: Kiva Publishing Company).

She mentions that her husband bought the trading post but, in fact, she and her husband managed the Black Mountain Trading Post for Lorenzo Hubbell Sr. who bought the post in 1914. The Hubbell family continued to own the post after Lorenzo Hubbell's death in 1930 and they operated it until 1937. (see page 284, Appendix Two, "Indian Trader - The Life and Times of J. L. Hubbell", Martha Blue, 2000. Walnut, California: Kiva Publishing Company)
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Format: Paperback
This is an account of a woman's journey from the wilds of Oregon to the wilds of Arizona around the turn of the century. These are honest and simply told tales of life on the frontier told with an innocence and freshness that captures the reader. This is a western classic.
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Format: Paperback
I couldn't put this book down. I felt as though i was alongside the wagon on it's way from Oregon towards the "Four Corners", and with Hilda & Ken through life at their trading post. Early 1900's life on Navajo Land was anything but simple. Hilda's writings carry you with her through suspense, joys, dancing, humour, births, sickness, deaths, everything we experience now, but as a white woman in an Indian world in a time when life was much more basic, survival was difficult & and instant gratification didn't exist...I loved it!
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Format: Paperback
This book covers the four years Hilda Faunce spent with her husband, Ken, who was an Indian trader on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. Their wagon trip from Oregon to Covered Waters trading post is an adventure in itself, but the real story is the day to day pre-WWI life as lived by this couple and the Indian families who traded with them. We get an unusually rich glimpse of reservation life through the eyes of a woman whose very wise, competent husband (who speaks Navajo) teaches her the ways of the desert and these people he admires.

By today's standards, Hilda's use of the words "heathen" and "savage" may seem racist, but she spoke without derision and it reflected what was normal vocabulary of the time. Also by today's standard, we might marvel at Hilda's oddly formal relationship with her husband, whose wisdom and skills she clearly respects. In one very dramatic turn of events, she describes Ken's life-threatening illness and how she coped with the loss of his assistance as well as the possibility that he could die. There is never a moment of self-pity in these people's lives; they did their jobs and were dependent upon one another. They expected life to be difficult.

We feel like invisible visitors to the thin shell of a trading post--a perfect analogy for the fragile relationship Ken and Hilda had with the Navajo. They constantly walked the cultural divide that separated them despite their mutually beneficial roles.
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Format: Audio Cassette
The third installment of Living Voices of the Past is another wonderful history lesson!
Hilda Faunce leaves her comfortable Seattle, Washington, home to journey to the Southwest and the Navajo reservation with her husband in 1914. While one may think that everybody had cars back then, the Faunce's made their way in the manner of the original pioneers: by wagon.
Hilda's journey is not so much a journal of her trip as it is her life on the reservation between 1914 and 1918. Hilda's writings are indeed an historical eye-opener.
First, there is the problem with the language; then the protocol; and the normal daily variances of two races trying to live side-by-side. Cultural diversity may be a late-twentieth-century term, but the fact is that many in America were already experiencing this phenomenon.
The entire journal is mesmerizing; Hilda uses very descriptive language to convey the sights and sounds of the unusual customs and landscapes that she encounters that transfers the listener to reservation life during the second decade of the twentieth century.
Two aspects were particularly telling of a different culture: contending with a white-man initiated illness and the onset of World War I.
The Navajo's were forced to face and contend with small pox, a deadly disease they had never known until the white man arrived. Many of Hilda's new friends died, devastating the young woman.
Newspapers were a rarity and treat on the reservation, so Hilda did not know much of what was going on outside her and her husband's little trading post. While the world was trying to blow itself to smithereens, the Faunce's and the Indians were trying to make a living by mainly trading...especially furs and foods.
Desert Wife is an important historical document that from which we can all learn tolerance and the need to just get along!
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