"In Calamity's Wake" by Natalee Caple

When Miette's adoptive father passes away, she sets out to find the woman who abandoned her.  In the late 1800's and the North American West, she comes across madwomen, thieves, minstrels, and ghosts as she crosses the country in search of her mother, the notorious Calamity Jane.

In In Calamity's Wake, Natalee Caple blends history and fiction to create a novel that transports you to a different time and place and brings to life the Wild West that fascinates us all.

I have never been a fan of Westerns, film or book.  In fact, I've only ever read one other Western book, Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers.  I read it because it was nominated for the Giller Prize and while I loved it, it wasn't enough to draw me to the genre on a whole.  I decided to give it all a try again with this book because I liked the idea of it being about Calamity Jane but with her in the background and not the narrator of the book.

The book jumps between two perspectives, Miette and Martha.  Miette is Jane's daughter and told in the first person, Martha is actually Jane and is told in the third person perspective.  I don't know much about her, really just the name and time period but as I read this book, her story unfolded for me as it unfolded for Miette.  I really enjoyed the way it was written as a discovery of the character rather than just a telling of her story.

There were a few moments in the book that had me flipping ahead, mostly just the inclusion of songs.  I understand why authors include those things in books, especially historical novels, but it's just not my thing.  But other than that I really enjoyed this tale of a woman who I always figured was trouble based on her reputation but actually turns out to be quite the heroine.  Was it enough to make me forget my bias toward the Western genre? Probably not, but I'm definitely one step closer.


  1. I always skim songs/poems, etc. ;) This sounds like a decent read. I think the only western I've read and loved was True Grit.

  2. Thanks for this! I appreciate your thoughts. Personally I love the songs and ephemera of the time but I can see how they aren't for everyone. Sincerely, Natalee


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