Forty Days with Ruth
by Carol Welty Roper
Trafford Publishing

"Ruth was lonesome and at moments like this, she felt she might just lose her mind if he didn’t return to her."

In 1898, a young, newly married couple makes their home in Oklahoma after eloping. Far from her Texas family, isolation sets in for Ruth, and she takes comfort in Riley’s companionship. But the need for food becomes too great, and Riley sets off to hunt and bring back needed supplies. When Riley does not return home anytime soon, a vulnerable Ruth wills herself to survive in the days of her husband’s absence.

Roper’s story shines when the untamed prairies of Oklahoma challenge Ruth, and the young woman finds strength from her spirituality and the bounties of the earth. She befriends useful creatures like the ant-eating short-horned lizard and the hunting red-tailed hawk. She skins a dead wolf for the warmth of its fur. She creates and nurtures a garden for fresh food and eats a snake for its protein. She defends her home and herself from wandering strangers on the land and praises God for protection. But it is the memories of her family and of her husband that help Ruth manage the loneliness and evade madness.

Based on the life of her grandmother, Roper’s historical coming-of-age novella portrays a pivotal period in a young woman’s life. Though there are supporting characters, they exist only in Ruth’s memory, and thus the author successfully presents a kind of one-woman act. She is adept at intricate detail where one can almost taste the delectable foods Ruth recalls. An unusual touch is the character analysis at the beginning of the book and the inclusion of old (and altogether enticing) family recipes at the end such as wild plum jelly, Scottish cock-a-leekie soup, and watermelon rind pickles to name a few. Roper renders an endearing story of a young woman’s survival.

Return to USR Home