Monday, July 10, 2023

July Read: Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom


It's been a hot minute since I read historical fiction! I read this over the weekend and wow it was a huge shift from what I've been typically reading over the last few months. 

Crow Mary is the fictional tale of a historical figure who is known as Crow Mary. She's a young woman living with the Crow tribe in Montana in 1872. Her father is the chief of the tribe, and her grandmother was married to a "yellow eyes", Mary's beloved grandfather. Before she was Crow Mary, she was named Goes First. She was smart, brave, and one heck of a shot. She was happily living with her parents when Abe Farwell arrived in the area looking to trade and possibly find a wife. 

Abe was taken with Goes First, and after reflecting on his offer, Goes First decides to accept his proposal, even though it means leaving her family and traveling to Canada to Abe's trading post. She feels marrying Abe is her calling and in doing so she can escape sad memories and help her tribe by marrying a white man. 

At first, things are going well. Goes First is given the name of Mary once they reach a fort where being an Indian meant trading pelts for whiskey and being cheated out of a fair trade by the white men. They were seen as such non-people that all Indian women were named Mary instead of honoring their native names. So now known as Crow Mary, or Mrs. Farwell, she begins to settle into her married life and make friends with other women in the area. 

Crow Mary and Abe travel to Canada and begin to build their trading post. This is where things take a turn, and Abe's decision to take a stand will haunt him and Crow Mary for years to come. 

I was fascinated by the Crow traditions and respect for family. Crow Mary was such an intriguing character; I couldn't help cheering her on when confronted with men who were just so nasty to her. While I would have wished for an easier journey for Crow Mary, everything she experienced made her a stronger woman. 

I attempted to find more information on Crow Mary, but was unsuccessful in my quick search on the internet. Her great-granddaughter writes the foreword to the novel, and the prologue is a definite circle around scene--you'll just have to wait and read the book! 

All in all, a satisfying peek into the life of a woman who took risks to save others, build a home, and raise a family. Author Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House) did a lot of research and it shows in her meticulous and well crafted descriptions of life on the prairie. Rape, kidnapping children to send to Indian schools in Pennsylvania; violence and murder are all part of this novel. 

Rating: 4/6 for historical fiction that brings Crow customs and lifestyle to life in a well written novel about a strong, resilient woman who became a legend. If you are a fan of Western fiction, or heck, even the TV show 1883, you will enjoy this novel. 

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