A Long Way to Go

A Long Way to Go - June Bryan Belfie The story is a clean Christian road (or better trek) romance. It brings together David Hardy, a widower of 11 years, and Rachel Miller, a mid thirties widow with a teenage daughter, a young son and a baby to nurse. David had always the desire to go west. And as his desire does not decrease over time and life’s disappointments, he sets out to join a wagon train on its way to Oregon and/or California. He becomes stranded in Missouri after being ambushed by Indians, who take his supplies. And while he has the funds to restock, the wagon train does not leave for another month or so and he needs room and board.

Rachel is the local midwife and the story start when she attends her sister giving birth. After several still births, this baby lives but then dies after a few hours. Rachel is beaten down and when she gets home, her emotions overwhelm her, especially in light of all the work her teenage daughter Lucinda was left with, while she attended the birth. They decided to ask the local pastor if he knows of someone who for room and board will help with the planting season.

David is that man. He works hard and Josiah, the young boy, begins to hero worship him, Lucinda, a bright young woman sees how much he works and how much he easies her mother’s load. Into the mix comes the news of Rachel’s sister and husband having decided to join the wagon train. At this point, we get the first glimmer of Rachel’s illogical conclusion jumping. She holds David responsible. He, being a very patient and easy going man, offers to leave. Rachel changes her mind when she realizes that this will burden not only herself but also her children.

As time goes by, and both David and Rachel get to know each other better, he offers her a marriage of convenience and a chance to come with him on the wagon train, thus staying close to her sister. After some humming and hoeing, Rachel agrees. She likes David’s company and knows she is beginning to care for him, enjoying when he touches her while helping her up a wagon etc. However, and here comes what goes through the rest of the story; Rachel feels guilty enjoying David. Even when during the trek, she has talks with her daughter, she finds out that her daughter , yes, had loved her father, who was a God fearing, Christian man, but her daughter had not been blind to the fact, that her father had checked out of his family’s life after the death of one of the children. Rachel realizes that her late husband really had not been there for her or the rest of the family the last few years, however that does not stop her from stating in her mind that she always will love him and only him. She continuously asks David to have patience with her, she tells herself she has to feel guilty for not only consummating the marriage but enjoying the marriage act (no description, just stating they went to their room, tent etc.). David on the other hand repeatedly tells her that he loves her and that he is for now okay that she only cares and that he hopes one day she will loves him as he loves her until then he has love enough for both of them. Rachel knows she is hurting him and that he deserves better.

Towards the end two events are thrown in which I think did not need to be there. A very personal tragedy occurs for Rachel and David and Rachel lashes out at David. And before any comments that one has to take her emotional state into account and has had to experience such a tragedy oneself before commenting, let me say, I have and I am fully aware that such a tragedy shapes a person and will be part of that person for the rest of life. However, I understand that both man and woman are touched by it. David does run off in a huff but as everyone predicts when Rachel begins whining that she has made a mistake and now her marriage is over, he returns and forgives her again. And she still can’t bring herself to tell David that she loves him. She knows it now but still has issues with her feelings and thinks she should not love him.

Another event, not as tragic, happens to the husband-to-be of Lucinda, Ben. The young couple met had gotten close during the trek.

This latter event I felt was just thrown in to show the dangers and perils, settlers faced even after the often treacherous journey.

Overall the story was written well. It described the hardships, the dangers those early settlers faced without gross details, death occurred during the trek but also joy and the beginnings of new life. Had Rachel been a little less warm/cold personality, I believe I would have given the story a higher ranking. For me it was a solid 3 star novel.