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The vengeance of mothers : the journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill
Author Notes
<p> Jim Fergus is an author born in 1950 in the U.S. He earned a degree in English from Colorado College. He works as a tennis teacher and freelance writer. He won the 1999 Fiction of the Year Award from the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association for his first novel, One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd. His other titles include: The Sporting Road: Travels Across America in an Airstream Trailer- With Fly Rod, Shotgun, and a Yellow Lab Named Sweetzer, The Wild Girl, and The Vengeance of Mothers. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
Fiction/Biography Profile
Margaret "Meggie" Kelly (Female), Twin, Married, Mother, Keeps a journal with her twin sister; participated in U.S. government's program "Brides for Indians"; married a Cheyenne Indian
Cheyenne Indians
Cultural assimilation
American history
Native American history
Native American culture
Cultural identity
Race relations
Women in history
Intercultural marriage
Time Period
1873-1876 -- 19th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Fergus continues his reimagining of the American West in the 1870s in this follow-up to One Thousand White Women, which was inspired by a historic proposal (never carried out) to send white women west to marry Cheyenne men. The story is told through the journals of women involved in the "Brides-for-Indians" program; Meggie Kelly, the Irish wife of a Cheyenne warrior, and Molly McGill, a murderess who joins the program to escape a life sentence in Sing Sing. Both mothers, Meggie and Molly have lost children in acts of violence. The women channel their grief by training to be warriors and vowing for vengeance. -VERDICT Readers sensitive to racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes will find no enjoyment here, as the author ignores the more interesting stories of the Cheyenne and Lakota women who appear on the margins. However, fans of the TV show Hell on Wheels might find the novel of interest.-Emily -Hamstra, Seattle © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Set in the 1880s, Fergus's follow-up to his bestselling One Thousand White Women focuses on the women who fell in love with Cheyenne men during a vicious war between the United States government and the indigenous population. Told through two alternating journals that cover the same time period, the book begins with the logs of Margaret Kelly, who-along with her sister, Susie-was part of the Wives for Indians program that sent "undesirable" women from prisons and asylums to marry Native Americans as a means to encourage assimilation. The second journal is that of Molly McGill, another woman sent to marry into the Cheyenne tribe. But when Molly arrives in the West, the program is virtually defunct, and the group of Cheyenne she was sent to meet is now on the run. After their village is destroyed by U.S. soldiers in a raid that leaves their children and husbands dead, Margaret and Susie are overwhelmed with a desire for revenge and refuse to leave the Cheyenne. Meanwhile, Molly and the other women sent west must either return to imprisonment or make a life for themselves in the face of extreme violence and danger. Although historically accurate, the book's reliance on the journal form leads to long monologues that read as wooden and redundant. However, the book starts quickly, bringing readers immediately into the time and place, and fans looking for adventure during the time of the Oregon Trail will find some thrills. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p> The stunning sequel to the award-winning novel One Thousand White Women: A Novel. <br> <br> "Clever and satisfying...Fergus is a superb writer [and] the characters are as real as any pioneer women who braved the rigors of westering." -- The Denver Post </p> <p> "A gripping tale, a history lesson infused with both sadness at the violence perpetuated against the Cheyenne and awe at the endurance of this remarkable group of women." -- Booklist , starred review <br> <br> 9 March 1876 </p> <p> My name is Meggie Kelly and I take up this pencil with my twin sister, Susie. We have nothing left, less than nothing. The village of our People has been destroyed, all our possessions burned, our friends butchered by the soldiers, our baby daughters gone, frozen to death on an ungodly trek across these rocky mountains. Empty of human feeling, half-dead ourselves, all that remains of us intact are hearts turned to stone. We curse the U.S. government, we curse the Army, we curse the savagery of mankind, white and Indian alike. We curse God in his heaven. Do not underestimate the power of a mother's vengeance... </p> <p>So begins the Journal of Margaret Kelly, a woman who participated in the U.S. government's "Brides for Indians" program in 1873, a program whose conceit was that the way to peace between the United States and the Cheyenne Nation was for One Thousand White Woman to be given as brides in exchange for three hundred horses. These "brides" were mostly fallen women; women in prison, prostitutes, the occasional adventurer, or those incarcerated in asylums. No one expected this program to work. And the brides themselves thought of it simply as a chance at freedom. But many of them fell in love with their Cheyenne spouses and had children with them...and became Cheyenne themselves.</p> <p> The Vengeance of Mothers explores what happens to the bonds between wives and husbands, children and mothers, when society sees them as "unspeakable." What does it mean to be white, to be Cheyenne, and how far will these women go to avenge the ones they love? With vivid detail and keen emotional depth, Jim Fergus brings to light a time and place in American history and fills it with unforgettable characters who live and breathe with a passion we can relate to even today.</p>
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