In 1954, Annie Wilkins, a sixty-three-year-old farmer from Maine, embarked on an impossible journey. She had no relatives left, she'd lost her family farm to back taxes, and her doctor had just given her two years to live--but only if she 'lived restfully.' Instead, she decided she wanted to see the Pacific Ocean just once before she died.
This is a feel-good story in every way, and Letts keeps the momentum lively, sprinkling in interesting historical tidbits that enrich the drama. The Ride of Her Life is an altogether quirky, inspiring journey that’s not to be missed.
... quirky ... The story is written with simple, familiar description unadorned by literary pretenses or poetic language; it’s as if the well-researched historical details were so numerous and fascinating that the author had to corral them into standard, expository segments in order to get a grip on the entire picture ... yet much of the fascination of this story rests in its context—the many details that recreate a changing America in the mid-fifties ... What is so appealing about this nutball adventure is that the reader is taken on a trip across the United States, small town by small town, during a radical shift from rural America (where in some locales, horses and buggies are still in use) to the modern automobile-determined landscape ... Wilkins opens our hearts as she puts this determination into motion on the back of a horse.
In describing the road conditions, towns, and people, including celebrities, Wilkins encountered on her four-thousand-mile journey, Letts creates a nostalgic travelogue and a vibrant history of life in 1950s America. Thanks to deeply sourced research and her own travels along Wilkins’ route, Letts vividly portrays an audacious woman whose optimism, courage, and good humor are to be marveled at and admired. Upbeat and touching, Wilkins’ story is the perfect pandemic escapist read.