ONE GLORIOUS AMBITION
This novel is based on the life of activist Dorothea Dix. She managed to change how the mentally ill were treated, which was not easy for a woman in the early 1800s. Kirkpatrick’s research is excellent and she writes about difficult issues with honesty and respect.
Dorothea Dix flees her uncaring parents’ home to live with relatives. She is not cut out for society and yearns for something more. She opens her first school and her students become her friends and family. When she becomes very ill, she has to close her school; while recovering she becomes aware of how cruelly the mentally ill are treated and she is determined to change that. It is an uphill battle and she faces many obstacles, which only spurs her to try harder. (WATERBROOK, Apr., 400 pp., $14.99)