TO HEAVEN ON HORSEBACK by Paul Cranston

TO HEAVEN ON HORSEBACK

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A romanticized biography of the Whitmans, Dr. Marcus and his wife, Narcissa, has its ending before their massacre by the Cayuse Indians with whom they had lived for six years. This is the story of their long westward passage in 1836 from New York State on their honeymoon, to St. Louis. There they left civilization behind, and headed for the far West as missionaries sent by the joint Presbyterian-Congregational Board to the Indians, accompanied by Henry Spaulding, who had been refused by Narcissa back home, and his wife, Eliza, both zealots and straight-laced gospel folk. Narcissa is the heroine here, in her growing love for Marcus, her determined efforts to be the right kind of wife for him. Her dedication to him and his beliefs is shown in the case of the wagon he was determined to bring all the way to their Western destination and which caused trouble and criticism; even when it was smashed, he made it into two carts in which Narcissa eventually took pride. There was the birth of their little girl, and her death; the mounting dissension between Spaulding and Marcus which resulted in the Board's orders for curtailment of the mission work, and the reason for Marcus' horseback ride to the East to clear things out. A biography that is a work of love, for Narcissa is pictured warmly, sympathetically and bravely loving but the Whitmans' story, with its pioneering vitality, can take such a treatment. And there's inspiration here, too.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1952
Publisher: Messner