Jane Kirkpatrick’s upcoming historical fiction novel is set in Oregon. A Light in the Wilderness is based on the true story of Letitia Carson, who bravely became of the first African-American women to cross the Oregon Trail.
The novel includes the journey of two other women, Nancy Hawekins, a doctor’s wife, and Betsy, a Kalapuya Indian. All three women find each other in the wildness and their bond supplies the strength to overcome the bitter frontier and discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.
Kirkpatrick spent countless hours researching her life. Letitia, a freed-slave, settled in Oregon with her husband, but after his death their farm and possessions were seized and sold at auction. She successfully sued in a state where a person of color could not testify against a white person, woman had little status, and persons of color were not even allowed to enter the territory.
Kirkpatrick, a well-known Central Oregon writer, is a New York Times and CA bestselling author of more than 25 books including A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center.
According to Kirkpatrick, “I think women like Letitia inspire us to greater tings. I like telling the stories of ordinary women who are really extraordinary. Their stories resonate with contemporary women and allow a reader to ask themselves how they would deal with that kind of challenge and to see that the strengths these women demonstrate are present in our own lives.”