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January 03, 2008

Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West - Book Review

Eightwomen_thumbA great winter read for women who love memoirs and road trips is Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West, where writer Joanne Wilke pieces together the journey her grandmother, great-aunt, and six of their female friends made in a couple of Model Ts.  In 1924, the women headed out from Iowa on a sightseeing tour that took them to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Mount Rainier, the Pacific Ocean, and Yellowstone, to name just a few of the tourist attractions of the American West that the women reached during the nine-week trip.

About the book:

In 1924 eight young women drove across the American West in two Model T Fords. In nine weeks they traveled more than nine thousand unpaved miles on an extended car-camping trip through six national parks, “without a man or a gun along.” It was the era of the flapper, but this book tells the story of a group of farm girls who met while attending Iowa’s Teacher’s College and who shared a “yen to see some things.”

A blend of oral and written history, adventure, memoir, and just plain heartfelt living, Eight Women is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Weaving together a granddaughter’s essays with family stories and anecdotes from the 1924 trip, the book portrays four generations of women extending from nineteenth-century Norway to present-day Iowa—and sets them loose across the western United States where the perils and practicalities of automotive travel reaffirm family connections while also celebrating individual freedom.

Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West
By Joanne Wilke
Bison Books
184 pages, $18.95

Jody DeVere

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