Review of A Clearing in the Wild
December 21, 2012, 9:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Strong-willed. That is perhaps the best adjective to describe Emma Wagner Giesy, the main character in Jane Kirkpatrick’s A Clearing in the Wild. She is raised in an utopian community in Bethel, Missouri. When the leader of the community wants to send out scouts to establish a base for a new community, Emma persuades him to allow her to go along as one of the scouts is her husband.

I live near Bishop Hill, Illinois, which is a former Swedish utopian community. I pictured Emma living in buildings similar to the ones located here. Although I don’t recall that the residents who resided at Bishop Hill were as nomadic as the ones depicted in the book.

I did a Google search on Emma Giesy. The Aurora County website hinted at the spirit portrayed in the book. I believe the exact phrasing was “it was all about Emma all the time.” Emma squirrels herself into a situation so she can prove the leader Wilhelm Keil wrong. She will be able to “endure the trials of Eve’s first sin.” When she realizes she may be in over her head, Emma thinks to herself, “I did feel deeply about the success of the journey and the ultimate goal of bringing the colony to a new and different place. But I felt deeply about my own needs, too, my own rights to pursue what I might be called to do.”

It is this difficulty of separation of self that I understand. As a mother, I’ve learned that kids come first. But sometimes I feel like Rose in the Rose is Rose comic strip when her motor-cycle riding alter ego shows up. It is this spirit that Emma possesses.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a review. I am under no obligation to give a favorable review.