Review of The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America by Elizabeth Letts Rating ****
Sixty-three-old Annie Wilkins had a goal. She wanted to see the Pacific ocean before she died. She was about to lose her farm in Maine, and her doctor gave her only two years to live. She also wanted to see America. What better way to see the country than by horseback?
Annie started her trip in November on a horse named Tarzan. Accompanying Annie and Tarzan was Annie’s dog, Depeche Toi. The story of Annie, Tarzan, and Depeche Toi trekking across the continent also serves as a backdrop to the story of America in the early 1950s. The automobile was the favored mode of transportation. Televisions were new. And the interstate highway system was still two years away.
The idea of a woman crossing the continent by horseback drew the attention of the media. People learned about Annie’s trip through the papers. They provided the horse a stable and food and gave Annie a place to stay for the night, even if it was the barn or a jail cell.
One person Annie met took a picture of her and her horse and then made postcards that Annie could sell to help fund her journey. It turned out to be a money maker for Annie.
Annie picked up another horse during her trip to help carry her increasing load. The second horse was named Rex. Annie and her companions became a nationwide story with fans following her progress. Her story was a precursor to a viral internet story.
Did she make it? You’ll have to read the book to find the answer to that question.