The New York Times bestselling author of the book club classics The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything returns with a sweeping and “richly detailed story of a woman caught between two cultures” (Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author) inspired by the real life of Crow Mary—an Indigenous woman in 19th-century North America.
In 1872, sixteen-year-old Goes First, a Crow Native woman, marries Abe Farwell, a white fur trader. He gives her the name Mary, and they set off on the long trip to his trading post in Saskatchewan, Canada. Along the way, she finds a fast friend in a Métis named Jeannie; makes a lifelong enemy in a wolfer named Stiller; and despite learning a dark secret of Farwell’s past, falls in love with her husband.
The winter trading season passes peacefully. Then, on the eve of their return to Montana, a group of drunken whiskey traders slaughters forty Nakota—despite Farwell’s efforts to stop them. Mary, hiding from the hail of bullets, sees the murderers, including Stiller, take five Nakota women back to their fort. She begs Farwell to save them, and when he refuses, Mary takes two guns, creeps into the fort, and saves the women from certain death. Thus, she sets off a whirlwind of colliding cultures that brings out the worst and best in the cast of unforgettable characters and pushes the love between Farwell and Crow Mary to the breaking point.
From “a tremendously gifted storyteller” (Jim Fergus, author of The Vengeance of Mothers), Crow Mary is a “tender, compelling, and profoundly educational and satisfying read” (Sadeqa Johnson, author of The Yellow Wife) that sweeps across decades, showcasing the beauty of the natural world, while at the same time probing the intimacies of a marriage and one woman’s heart.
Grissom (The Kitchen House) offers an ambitious account of bravery and initiative inspired by the true story of a Crow woman who married a white man in late-1800s Montana. Goes First is happy as a teenager, learning from her mother and grandmother how to pray, build a sweat lodge, and tan hides, and picking up English from her Métis grandfather. When Goes First is 16, the man she's meant to marry is killed in a buffalo stampede, and she agrees to marry 34-year-old white fur trader and whiskey seller Abe Farwell, who gives her people guns for protection against enemy Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. For their wedding ceremony, she's renamed Mary, and Abe brings her to Fort Benton, Mont., where she befriends a Métis woman who helps her deal with culture shock. Mary also shows cunning and strength when faced with violence and injustice, particularly with a drunken party of marauders while on a trading trip with Abe in Canada, qualities that drive the narrative toward a thrilling climax. With a flashback-heavy narrative, Grissom effectively conveys how Mary's Crow childhood stays with her over the course of her new life. This moving story of one woman's grit, survival, and resilience will keep readers turning the pages.