Title: Where the Trail Ends
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Summerside Press
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” In Melanie Dobson’s eleventh novel, the American Tapestries series Where the Trail Ends shows one woman’s path to contentment as she traveled the Oregon Trail.
This three hundred and thirty-three page paperback novel depicts a young lady dressed in the mid-eighteen hundred’s colonial costume with the Columbia Gorge in the background. After the story, there are author’s notes about real and fictional characters and the time period’s culture and social nuances along with four books by other authors in the series. There were no typographical or grammatical errors. With no profanity or explicit sex scenes, the book can be read by young adult and older and is obviously targeted toward females.
The trip from the Midwest to the Oregon Trail covers around two thousand miles and was traveled by more than nine hundred sojourners in 1843, some mostly by foot. Usually caravans of wagons, horses, cattle and humans would cross the country, loosing most of their worldly possessions along the way to get to the fertile Willamette Valley. With no written diaries, Dobson does a wonderful job weaving the story of hardship, sacrifice and long-suffering of the travelers.
The tome encircles Samantha Waldron, a young, spirited woman coming of age who travels with her father, young brother and dog in a caravan from Ohio to Oregon. En route, they deal with inclement weather, lack of water, illness and death. Convinced she is in love with Jack, one of the leader’s helpers, Samantha and family separate from the group when the leader insists on killing all dogs. Jack departs with them and other families as they trudge across the land, only to deal with her father dying from a bear attack and her brother injured. When Jack leads the remaining group onward, Samantha stoically and almost obsessively protects her brother as they fend for themselves.
While capsizing in the Columbia River during downpour, the two are rescued by a British gentleman who runs a fur company at Fort Vancouver. When Samantha learns the man is engaged to be married and Jack is not the one for her, she must come to terms with what true love and being content really mean.
Dobson does an excellent job keeping the reader informed and engaged as they travel along their perilous journey that so much of us today take for granted. With the underlying Biblical references to God being in control and helping us along our daily walk, the writer is compassionate and understanding when showing He has us where we are for a specific reason. This is a great educational read about the history, land, people, and culture during the “Great Migration” but also a good lesson to learn about a real loving relationship and contentment.