The Girl in the Boots summary

The Girl in the Boots moves in time between Red River of the early 1800s and Red River of the present (also known as Winnipeg). Sarah McLeod ( a real person) was put in a canoe on the Columbia River when she was 12 years old and sent to Red River to become the Victorian Era’s vision of a lady. She was a half breed (their words, not mine). Her transformation was a raging success — so much so that she married up-and-coming Hudson’s Bay Company officer John Ballenden in December 1836 and became the leading lady of the settlement.

Sarah Ballenden died before photography was widely available. No known pictures exist of her. This is a photo of her daughter, whom people said looked a lot like her mother.

Sarah Ballenden died before photography was widely available. No known pictures exist of her. This is a photo of her daughter, whom people said looked a lot like her mother.

Unfortunately, her timing was a bit off. White wives were becoming the fashion in Red River. They came over from Scotland and England as clergy wives or as school teachers hoping to snag a rich fur trader. These women couldn’t stand the fact that they had to defer to a half breed, and they basically snubbed, hounded, mocked, gossiped and rumoured her to death. She died  in Edinburgh in 1853 of a broken heart, as Alexander Ross, a contemporary of hers, described it.

Robert Foss lives in present-day Red River. He was curious to know who planted the giant cottonwood trees on the riverbank outside his downtown condo. He’d moved there alone after his wife Jane died in a horrible car crash that wasn’t his fault (but kind of was). He learned about the cottonwoods, and when he dug deeper, he unearthed Sarah’s story.
It was also the cottonwoods that caused him to meet The Girl in the Boots — Elizabeth Ingham. She is a woman half his age. She is eerily like the woman Robert is researching, Sarah Ballenden. Elizabeth is extremely attractive and even Robert’s wife, Jane, who is dead but keeps talking to him anyway, likes her.

But really, this is all incidental. The novel is about the big questions of life: the nature of time, and greatness;  the importance of loving yourself first; and why imperfection is the most important aspect of the universe.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s