Monday, September 5, 2011

Sight-seeing - A Book Review: The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Some people groan... let's be honest; most of us groan when we hear the word "labor." My friends, we should be thankful for our ability to work. Labor is listed in Genesis as God's gift to us before the Fall of Man. It wasn't part of the judgement for man's disobedience. It wasn't meant to be a burden, but rather a life-fulfilling effort, a joy, believe it or not. While you rest on this Labor Day, I hope you enjoy your cookouts (it's raining here, we'll be cooking indoors), the beach, the mountains or wherever else you go. Before you launch into a new season of busy-ness, take some time to relax and refresh with Jody Hedlund's most recent labor of love, a wonderful historical fiction novel called The Doctor's Lady.

Hedlund's The Doctor's Lady is based on the real events recorded in the diary of the first woman to attempt the overland trail west that became known as the Oregon Trail. There is irony in writing this review for me. When my children were young, we came across this great little computer game by MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) called "The Oregon Trail." The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley over the Oregon Trail via a Conestoga wagon in 1848. The game kept a record of your trip which was available to read as a rather dry diary at the end of the game. The kids could not get enough of playing it during their elementary school years, learning about American history while having fun. The Doctor's Lady made a connection to that memory for me, yet, it is no prosaic story like the Oregon Trail's gaming diary. Rather, it is brought brilliantly to life by blending Hedlund's love of history and her daring as an author to ask "what could have happened?" She weaves a sprinkling of historical fact with good writing and a clever imagination.

The Doctor's Lady took me on a sweeping adventure across America of the 1800's. The characters are lively and engaging and the plot grabbed hold of me.  I read sixty pages immediately, but was interrupted until the next day. When I picked it up again, I read straight through to the end. I honestly could not put this book down until I reached the final page.

I don't usually read romance novels, but this is not your typical romance. Beyond triggering the memory of the game and times with my kids, I connected with this story in ways I had not expected. I experienced the frustration of Priscilla and Eli at the decision of the Missionary Board - a decision my modern sensibilities and personal experiences told me was short-sighted. I felt Priscilla's agony at not knowing the joy of motherhood because I have three children of my own and can't imagine what life would be like without them. Hedlund's writing made me feel as though I were there in New York. On their journey west, the characters traveled through Williamsport, PA, a place only an hour south of where I live and have been to many times. My mother-in-law grew up there. I have heard many stories of her childhood and I could imagine the sights and sounds. I was swept along with these intelligent and intrepid people. The more I knew, the more I wanted to know and the more I cared.

The story of Priscilla and Eli brings with it the timeless message of hope in hopelessness. It is a reminder of what being a person of faith in difficult times - and in times of joy - can mean. It is also a reminder of all that was challenging about our young nation's early years, full of hardship, loss, discovery and triumph.

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady was just released and is available now.

Find Jody:
Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Her  website:

Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!

Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

In celebration of the release of The Doctor’s Lady, Jody is offering her readers a chance to win an incredible pioneer prize package valued at $300.
Visit the Contest page or find Jody on Facebook to learn more, submit your entry, and tell your friends.

Announcing YOUR chance to win a copy of 
signed by Author Jody Hedlund:

Directions for the Journey is offering one print copy of “The Doctor’s Lady” signed by Jody Hedlund. You have several opportunities to enter this drawing. You may do just one, two or all three of the options below and each option equals one entry of your name into the hat from which the winner will be drawn.
The only Rule - You MUST have a U.S. Mailing address (No P.O. Boxes please!)

Entry option #1 - Post a reply to this blog article and tell me how much you'd like to read Jody's book.
Entry option #2 - Visit my facebook author page and mention this blog post there.
Entry option #3 - Come back on September 10, 2011 and post a reply to the upcoming Interview that Directions for the Journey will be doing with Jody.

The entry window for the drawing is now open and closes at 11:59 PM September 12, 2011. I hope you get to enjoy this marvelous book soon. God bless you and thanks for reading!


  1. Wow, Kris! What an incredibly lovely review! You just blew me away!! Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and detailed post!! I'm SO glad that you liked the book even though you don't typically read romances! :-) And that the story drew you in and so many different ways! Blessings!

  2. What a great review - I definitely want to read this book. I love to read about the pioneer women - they were such strong women. I hope I win!

    babykf at hotmail dot com

  3. I just finished the book last night and was so wonderful. I, like you, couldn't put it down. And the more I read, the more I could picture in my mind all they were going through. Made my heart smile the entire time, oops, well, almost the entire time. A few tears fell out my eyes, but then I'm a hopeless romantic!! Love the book!!!

  4. @Jody - You are very welcome! It was an absolute pleasure. I look forward to our interview on Saturday. :D

    @Kim - Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments. :D You will enjoy Jody's book tremendously. Your name is in the contest pool. Did you enter her Trailblazer contest too?

    @Anon - I will confess ... I cried too. I didn't mention it in the review because I couldn't think of how to do that without spoilers. I'm so glad you stopped by!

  5. What a great, really thoughtful review! I am certainly inspired to read the story, and it's going on my "To Be Read" list right now. :)

  6. I loved Jody's first book and can't wait to read this one. Your review makes me want to read it even more. :)

  7. @Tlj - I'm glad! It is well worth the time. Thank you for stopping by. :D

  8. Enjoyed the review and Jody's first book so I knew I wanted to read. I was trying to win a copy and my daughter took pity on me after she finished and loaned me hers. I have stuff to do but keep reading to see what comes next and yes she cried and her daughter (at 2.5) thought taking the book away would "fix" the sadness.

  9. Moogie, that's so sweet! Kids are such awesome blessings. This contest is for a signed copy, too, which would be a terrific treasure to have in your library.

    I am very glad you took the time to stop by!