Author: Elizabeth Letts
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Book Description: In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn’t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.
Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America’s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities—from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. She received many offers—a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. In a decade when car ownership nearly tripled, when television’s influence was expanding fast, when homeowners began locking their doors, Annie and her four-footed companions inspired an outpouring of neighborliness in a rapidly changing world.
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: The unbelievable true story of Annie Wilkins, who at the age of 63 made a cross-country trip from Maine to California by horseback is quite a gem of a story.
When Annie Wilkins is diagnosed by an undetermined lung disease and is given a finite time to live, with not much going for her in her home town, she makes a life changing decision to leave everything and take her horse and dog on a cross country journey. Through the many towns of America we are told a picturesque story of America in the 1960’s.
Elizabeth Letts does not shy away from any topic in this book from, racial issues, life saving tactics, to capturing quintessential Main Street America. This book read more like a novel than non-fiction. This is book is usually outside my wheelhouse, but I really found myself entrenched in Annie’s journey and was rooting for.
A very easy, enjoyable read, that is perfect for this time of year.
Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.