Fort DouglasSalt Lake City, Utah 1895 is the setting for Fort Douglas by Nancy Foshee. It opens with the death of a prostitute, but quickly moves to the arrival in Salt Lake of Abigail Randolph, daughter of Colonel Randolph, the man in charge of Fort Douglas. She has traveled from what she sees as the civilized eastern United States to visit her father. Upon her arrival, Captain Garrett Jackson Talbot meets her at the station. He explains that her father had an important meeting so he came to escort her back to the fort.  Abby is disappointed, but this is not the first time her father has disappointed her. He chose the military over her and her mother, seeing her infrequently as a child. When her mother died, he left her with her grandparents instead of taking her with him or coming home. She was loved by them, but her father’s choice always made her feel abandoned. The only reason she agreed to come to Fort Douglas was her activity in the Women’s Rights movements. She was especially interested in working towards giving women the right to vote. Once she arrived, she immediately found another, more pressing issue for the women in Salt Lake. Because the United States failed to allow Utah to become a state due to the Mormon’s practice of allowing more than one wife, women were being cast out on the streets by Mormon husbands who chose to keep only one wife, leaving the outcasts without income or skills, some of them turning to prostitution as they had no other choice. Abby’s involvement eventually leads to consequences that not only affect her, but those in the fort she has come to love.

Nancy Foshee’s historical novel has many wonderful layers. Fort Douglas is an interesting story than weaves family, loss, love and history together to create a fascinating novel. It gives the reader a glimpse into life in the 1890s, which is not always pretty. We often take our rights for granted, including the right to vote and other rights women have now, not thinking about the personal and public sacrifices made by individuals to give those rights to us.  Abby came out west to change the world, yet the world ended up changing her. Foshee’s growth and evolvement of characters, especially Abby, was masterful. Her descriptions of Salt Lake and Fort Douglas were done so well, I could almost hear the swish if the women’s dresses when they entered the room. The settings described so vividly wood smoke and horses, wet wool and kittens accompanied my thoughts as I read. When I finished reading Fort Douglas, I searched the internet for more history. Fort Douglas is now a Military Museum. We can actually tour it, allowing us to walk where fictional Abigail Randolph faced very real issues, not to mention learning about the real people that lived there. I loved this book, and recommend it to adult readers that are interested in the historical fiction, mysteries or just love to immerse themselves in a well-written, interesting novel.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.