One Glorious Ambition: The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix by Jane Kirkpatrick is a novel about a strong independent woman in the 1800s who makes it her life's mission to fight for the rights of the sick and imprisoned. As with Jane Kirkpatrick's other works, this novel features a strong, self sufficient woman in the context of a specific historical period. In contrast to the common expectation of seeking out a mate to marry and have children, her novels feature women who reject the social expectations in favor of an independent life with purpose.
Dorothea Dix, the heroine of the story struggles as a child with an abusive father and neglectful mother. In an effort to seek a better life for a younger brother, she leaves her childhood home. At the age of 12 her independent journey towards self sufficiency begins. Her strong biblical morals and faith lead her to set aside worldly goals of marriage, and wealth in exchange for an ongoing mission to help those less fortunate. This book is in striking contrast to the genre of Christian fiction written for women that focuses on a young woman's plight to find a man to marry. For those readers that enjoy classics such as Jane Eyre, this book is a modern novel in a similar tradition.
This book is like two books merged in one. While the first half is more of a novel focusing on the life and struggles of Dorothea, the second half of the book focuses on her reforming efforts in specific detail. There are references to historical political figures and events that give historical realism to this book. The second half of the book is like an auto biography that focuses on more specific details of her life and mission. This epic novel covers an entire lifetime, starting with Dorothea at age 12, and continuing on to her mid 40s and beyond. The reader can truly follow the events of her lifetime. Her glorious ambition refers to her motive of helping others- a common theme throughout her entire lifetime. In fact she forsakes marriage, children and wealth in order to help others. The reader may wonder about such a strong woman who is willing to sacrifice her entire life.
As a blogger for WaterBrook publishers I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.