Cover Image: The Ride of Her Life

The Ride of Her Life

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The Ride of Her Life begins in Maine where Annie has been told she doesn't have long to live.  She has little to no money and is going to lose her home.  She decides to buy a good horse and along with her faithful canine companion heads for the California coast.  This true story takes place in the 1950s.

I found the idea of the trip Annie made amazing. She had to have been tough as nails!  There was a lot of interesting information about the areas she traveled through and the people she met along the way.  Annie felt that people were good and she would be able to find kindness and help on her journey.  This proves to be true.  While I found the book interesting, it read slow with a lot of information to digest.  Overall it was well written and I'm glad I read it.

My sincere thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read The Ride of Her Life and give my unbiased opinion of it.
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This book is officially one of my all-time favorites. While it is nonfiction, it reads like a novel. Letts did extensive research, and it shows. I cannot say enough good things about this book. 

In 1954, Annie Wilkins, 63-years old, was about to lose her home in Minot, Maine since she could not pay the back taxes. No money, no family, and her medical condition was such that she had been told she only had two years to live. So, she bought an older horse, loaded her belongings onto it and set out for California with her dog. She wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. At that time there were no printed maps so she could plot her entire trip, so she took it state by state, not always taking the shortest route. She pushed through blizzards, flash floods, desert heat. As the modern interstate highways were just beginning to be built, the three travelers often had to share the road with speeding cars and trucks. There were times I was not sure she would make it to her destination.

The best part of the book for me was the relationship between her four-legged traveling companions: her little dog Depeche Toi, her horse Tarzan, and later the addition of Rex, a Tennessee walker. Their personalities were as well developed as the human characters in most books. I loved them!

I learned quite a bit of history along her journey: the origin of our interstate highway system, the early days of medical insurance (used as an incentive to get workers), the birth of the TV Western, the two great migrations to the West, how local jails were receptive to allowing travelers to spend the night in a cell, and Art Linkletter’s connection to Annie. Some may find that boring, but it is written in such a way that it flowed easily with the story.     

Annie could not have made the journey without the kindness of strangers along the way. People allowed her to stay in their homes, bedded her animals, gave her food and medical help. I have to admit to feeling a bit nostalgic for an innocent America that no longer exists. She became a celebrity and was interviewed by the media all along her route. She took on the distinction of being the “last saddle tramp.” Annie truly had the wanderlust. Annie kept diaries along the way and the letters she received. These documents were used in the author’s research.

Overall, this book stole my heart. If you love adventure or love sweet animals, you should read this book.
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Annie Wilkins is 63 years old with only 2 years left to live. Annie lives in Maine and can not afford her taxes on her property so she will lose her home. Annie will not accept charity so she decides that she will make her last years an adventure and will travel to California. She buys a horse and she has her 14 month old dog that she will take with her. So begins Annie's adventure. This story was written with some highlights of history from each state that Annie and her traveling companions go thru. I was invested in the story from the beginning to the end. I know if you try this book you will enjoy The Ride of Her Life.
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This sure was a different type of book than what I normally would pick up.  I'm so glad that I did!

The story takes place in 1954 where we meet 63 year old Annie Wilkins after getting a terminal diagnosis.  Annie buys a horse and sets out to travel from Maine to California with her horse, Tarzan and dog Depeche Toi.  She travels on horseback!  Can you just imagine?

This book made me incredibly sad and incredibly happy all at the same time.  During her travels we get to meet a lot of real life characters along the way we get to watch and experience what Annie, Tarzan and Depeche Toi did.  It is a wonderful book.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballentine for this advanced readers copy.  This book released on June 1, 2021.
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In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn’t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.  Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America’s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities—from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter .  She received many offers—a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. 

That you NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this fascinating book.  It is a true story, and it was evident that the author has done a lot of research not only on Annie's life, but on the culture of the mid-fifties.  Not only did I feel like I was riding along with her across the country, but I learned a lot of history along the way.  I also thought it was interesting that Annie lived over 20 years past her doctor's prediction that she only had 2 years to live!  I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story and loves history as I do.
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The Ride of Her Life was an interesting read. I found myself thinking about how different life was in the mid 1950s compared to life now in our digital, social media age, wondering if a journey like this would even be possible now.
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What a fascinating story! Annie's story touched me; she was elderly, facing certain death, yet she wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. Annie sets out on horseback from her rural Maine town with her beloved dog. Her outlook on life and her grit and determination were truly inspiring. Her adventures were not easy, but along the way she met people who helped and encouraged her. 

I loved the glimpse into a different sort of Americana than we know now. There was an open awareness and acceptance to Annie's world that we could use more of today in our modern times. Easy to read and captivating,  i found Annie's story to be an inspiration to not give up and to persevere.
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I loved it! Annie’s story is fascinating. Can you imagine taking off from Maine in the late fall, just you, your horse, Tarzan, and dog Depeche Toi (you’ll have to read the book to find out about that name), to ride to California?
And at 63, at that! This was in 1955, before the interstate highway system was completed, so most of the traveling would be on less traveled roads, but still dangerous.
Annie, who was no stranger to hard work, decided in 1955 that she wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. Financial troubles meant she needed to sell the farm (not that she got much for it), so the time was right.
Lett tells of the day-to-day highs and lows Annie had along the way, the people she met and what she learned.
I could see a movie here!
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I really enjoyed this book.  It is an easy read.  Takes you from Maine to California on horseback with your dog.  If you love animals and history, this book is for you.  Very well written.  Takes you back in time, but current also.  Take it for a spin, I think you will enjoy it too!
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This was a very different type of book for me. As it was a true story I wanted to read about it. Annie was quite a character. It was a little long and slow, and somewhat repwtutive, but it was necessary to be that way as everything contributed to the true story. I’m glad i read it. So interesting to see the changes in our country from the 50’s till now. Especially since it took place around the year I was born!  Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this prerelease copy.
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This true story was incredibly interesting! I loved learning about Annie and her adventure. The people she came across and the things she experienced were fascinating. I loved all of the tidbits about the time period and how it affected her. Overall though, it got a bit long winded and contained too much information. A cool story that I enjoyed but could have been a lot shorter. My thanks to the publisher for the advance reader in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Random House Publishing-Ballentine for the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own.
This is the story of farmer Annie Wilkins, her 3 animal companions and a remarkable journey that started in 1954.. 63 year old Annie has lost everything and her doctor has told her she only has a year or two to live. Even though she lives in Maine, she wants to see the Pacific Ocean before she dies. She travels across the country on horseback with her small dog. This book is not only just a description of her travels, but it is also a history of what was going on in the country at that time.-lots of historical facts. As the group traveled, they made many friends and received a lot of help from caring people. I loved the relationship between Annie and her animals-the descriptions of them looking into each others eyes and understanding each other. I highly recommend this book!
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Annie Wilkins was the last of her line, and an older, unmarried woman in rural upstate Maine when everything fell apart. Farming was never easy up in the Lewiston/Auburn area – and her remote little town of Minot was without much opportunity. After the death of her ‘uncle’ when she was stricken with pneumonia and a recurrence of the tuberculosis, she’d contracted years earlier while doing ‘off farm’ work to supplement the farm’s income, she’s returned home to her little dog companion and little else but a rundown farm, no running water or electricity, or options.  

She’s always dreamed of seeing the Pacific Ocean however, and an opportunity to get a horse headed for the abattoir, she brings him home – soon to head off.  Annie, Tarzan (the horse) and Depeche Toi (her dog) leave Maine in November 1954 to beat the snow and start their adventure.  From little tidbits about Annie’s determination and single-mindedness, her flouting of ‘conventional’ roles for women and truly caring little for the opinions of others, she was a maverick in the true sense of the word, even as she was one of the last of a long line of “saddle tramps’.   
As often happens in these sorts of stories, Annie is treated to several challenges, and relies on the kindness of the people she meets and finds hope and sunlight in her sunset years.  From illness to unlikely companions, Annie captures the imagination of the press – and she’s soon a ‘story of interest’ and captures a sort of hope and belief in those who hear of her story: that there are wonders to be found and it is never too late to chase your dreams.  Annie is typical of a hard-bitten New Englander. Reserved, determined, self-sufficient, private and quietly imaginative – even when all the odds are stacked against her. Ill health, a lack of consistent medical care, even finding time for rest and enjoyment are all secondary considerations to the task at hand – and while she’s got little use for most humans, her animals and their happiness and chance for joy are foremost in her thoughts.  Letts (in the second I’ve read from her) captures Annie in a way that is respectful and honors her strengths – physical, of character and her determination as she takes one last chance to chase a dream held for years. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at <a href=”  /” > <a> I am, Indeed </a>
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I really enjoyed this book and recommended it to my 88 yr. old mother (we both loved it)!  This book was generously provided to me through NetGalley.  Highly Recommended!
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This true story of 63 year old Annie Wilkins who left Maine with her dog, her horse and not much else and decided she was going to ride to California.  It was 1955 and this was an amazing adventure. Annie meets so many people along the way who help her on her journey and encourage her. In reading this story, you learn about Annie’s love for her animal companions, love of a simple life and her courage in setting off on this adventure alone.
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4 1/2 stars rounded up.  I truly loved the journey that this book took me on.

Annie Wilkins' farm is on the brink of foreclosure and her health is continuing to decline.  Instead of accepting this fate, she decides to create her own.  In a fairly impulsive move, she decides to make a journey to a place she once dreamed of- California.  Dressed in men's clothing for warmth, riding an old horse named Tarzan and with just her little dog, Depeche Toi, as her companion, she leaves in the cold of a Maine winter and starts her journey.  Never could Annie have predicted the pace of her journey, nor the zig-zag route she would end up following.  With the true American spirit and brotherly love still alive and well, she manages to not only survive, but thrive on this massive trek.  Cars, highways, road maps, steep mountain passes, difficult weather, and so much more were possible roadblocks.  

I really thought this was a wonderful snapshot of not only her life, but of the great people she passed along the way.  I love that she kept her journals that allowed this book to be written so well.  I thought the author did a fabulous job capturing Annie's spirit and spunk.  I would definitely recommend!  I loved reading through some of the research at the end as well.  There were some fascinating tidbits throughout this one!

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts is an intriguing non-fiction book about Annie Wilkins. I would call it a memoir but that is not quite right. It was written in a conversational style which made an interesting telling of this intriguing story. Annie, at 62, found herself with nothing. Faced with starvation or accepting charity, she took her meager savings and bought a horse, which other wise would have ended up in the meat factory. He had lots of miles left in him. After packing nearly everything she owned, she, the horse, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi set off to travel from Maine to California, a life-long dream of her mother's: to see the Pacific Ocean. This is the story of that journey. 

As you might expect, this was an entertaining, if not swift, journey. Along the way she met many people, most of whom were thrilled to be able to help her. One even suggested involving the press, which gained her publicity to help finance her journey. She made the trip, and despite the fact the doctor in Maine had given her 2-4 years to live, she died at the ripe old age of 88 after returning to Maine and living there for many years. It was a wonderful story full of interesting personalities and situations. I would suggest this read for high school students and anyone with a hankering to learn more about American history from the viewpoint of a regular person. Annie's observations and contacts bring that history alive. I suggest you give it a try. 

I was invited to read The Ride of Her Life by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #netgalley #therideofherlife
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This is the story of Annie Wilkins’ journey across the United States on horseback.  She was 63, had just lost her family farm in Maine, and was told that she only had a couple years to live with the current condition of her lungs.  With very limited funds, she packed up what she could onto her horse and hit the road with her trusty dog.  This was in the mid-50s with no internet or cell phones so she had to rely on gas station paper maps, word of mouth, and the kindness of others.  Oh, and she started out in November with hopes of getting to warmer weather before winter hit.  When traveling at 3 or 4 miles per hour and starting off in Maine, that wasn’t a very realistic thought.  But she also thought she’s be in warmer weather once she hit Pennsylvania…..still makes me chuckle.

The author tells Annie’s story based on interviews of a friend she met along the way, those whose families took her in, and all the news stories about her journey.  I found it to be well written and flowed well, however, I just found it to be a little slow at times.

Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy of this book.
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Oh, my gosh. What a road trip! In 1954, Annie Wilkins, a 63-year-old widow found herself without money, home or family and she had just been told by her doctor that she had only two years to live. Not wanting to be a burden on anyone, she did the unbelievable. She’d never owned a horse or even sat on one, but she got one and together woman and horse left Maine behind and set off across the continent. If you want a feel-good story, this is it.
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With a dire diagnosis and seemingly nothing left to live for after losing her farm, Annie Wilkins embarks on the trip of a lifetime in the mid-1950s. She will see sunny, glorious California and the Pacific Ocean come hell or high water. She gathers what few belongings she needs, grabs her trusty dog, Depeche Toi, and saddles up her new horse, Tarzan. Through incredible odds, she travels from Maine throughout both rural and urban areas across the country. Along the way, her faith in humanity and sense of community fuels her journey. She's helped by many people in various environs who advise her, admire her, and want her autograph.

This could inspire anyone who's absolutely down on their luck to keep going. Annie really has nothing left to lose, but she occupies what seems like the rest of her life with a ride where she learns so much about America and other people. You'll be whisked through icy, rural roads and hot desert climes and wonder just how she'll make it through the next hurdle. You'll witness the connections she has with her animals, and it may make you reconsider your own connections with your pets.

I enjoyed the book although at times it could be slow. There's quite a bit of geography and interesting bits of history whether about area mores, how towns became cities, and a whole host of other tidbits. It really gives you a taste of wanderlust and how much you can find just in America alone. It also amazes you about how our nation grew. It also may restore your faith in people although it concerns me that if someone embarked on this type of journey, would it turn out the same way?

Some may not love the book if they're not into history or geography or even animals. This is not normally the type of book I read, but it's incredibly well-written and some parts do grab you and engage you. Will Annie and her animals make it? And at what cost. While I don't think this book will be for everyone, I'm really glad I read it.
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