In 1924 eight young women drove across the American West in two Model T Fords. In nine weeks they traveled more than nine thousand unpaved miles on an extended car-camping trip through six national parks, "without a man or a gun along." It was the era of the flapper, but this book tells the story of a group of farm girls who met while attending Iowa's Teacher's College and who shared a "yen to see some things." A blend of oral and written history, adventure, memoir, and just plain heartfelt living, Eight Women is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Weaving together a granddaughter's essays with family stories and anecdotes from the 1924 trip, the book portrays four generations of women extending from nineteenth-century Norway to present-day Iowa-and sets them loose across the western United States where the perils and practicalities of automotive travel reaffirm family connections while also celebrating individual freedom.
Joanne Wilke's work has appeared in the Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West and Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West anthologies. She has also written pieces for the Montana Quarterly, the Pacific Review, and the Christian Science Monitor.