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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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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
Isabella Lucy Bird could hardly have chosen a worse time for a visit. First, she arrived in September, staying only three months in Colorado's bitterly cold, deeply snowy weather. Second, the banks were in a financial crisis and she could not cash a letter of credit; at one time, she was down to less than 50 cents which had to last her mote than three weeks. Her and her horse, Birdie, that is. Third, at the time travelers had to rely on the kindness of strangers, dropping in unannounced to houses perhaps 10 to 20 miles apart on the rough trails, often inhabited in winter by a few men paid to look after the cattle. Now-and-then, a settler's house could be found, though the desperately hard-scrabble life made for less-than-warmest welcomes.
To the lonely men who were unfailingly chivalrous, Isabella may have looked mighty appealing. At any rate, Isabella knew how to make herself welcomed. She could cook, clean, sing, join prayers, and was particularly sought as a cowhand able to ride hard, fast, and wrangle cattle. Like a Shaharizade, she had hundreds of stories to tell of her travels & exploits.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book after returning from a trip to Estes Park and wanted to extend my memories of this beautiful place. This woman was unbelievable and so gutsy for her time. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Mac D
Story as a series of letters written to her sister in England. Great tale of a woman travelling alone, on horseback through the Colorado Rockies. Read morePublished 18 days ago by RI
I have read this book a few times. It fascinates me that a woman can travel like she did in the Rocky Mountains on horseback by herself. Read morePublished 1 month ago by S4mmy M
Interesting letters of a 19th century woman's wanderlust. Written, I suspect, with a bit of Romantic flourish, Isabella Bird's letters give an interesting account of an... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Harperkay
Boring. I could not get past 25 pages. Surely life in the Rocky Mountains was more energizing than this.Published 2 months ago by River Runner
Isabella Bird gets 5 stars. This book of her letters gets 3. Her story, her experiences, and her person are fascinating. Read morePublished 5 months ago by NHP
The title says it all. She lived in the second half of the 1800s and was a true feminist. Wonderful lady and fun to read how things used to be.Published 5 months ago by Annie Pope
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 9 months ago by Phyllis Wright