Monday, May 10, 2021

#SophiaRoseReviews Strongheart by Jim Fergus #3 in his One Thousand White Women trilogy

Today my friend Sophia Rose is reviewing Strongheart by Jim Fergus One Thousand White Women #3. Those of you who have read any books in this series know how poignant they are so like many of you I can't wait to hear what Sophia Rose thought of the finale.

Strongheart by Jim Fergus

#3 One Thousand White Women

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Published: 4.6.21


Page:  377

Rating: 4.5

Format: eARC

Source:  Net Galley

Sellers: Amazon/  Barnes & NobleKobo

ADD TO: GoodReads


GoodReads Blurb:

The final installment to the One Thousand White Women trilogy is a novel about fierce women who are full of heart and the power to survive.

In 1873, a Cheyenne chief offers President Grant the opportunity to exchange one thousand horses for one thousand white women, in order to marry them with his warriors and create a lasting peace. These women, "recruited" by force in the penitentiaries and asylums of the country, gradually integrate the way of life of the Cheyenne, at the time when the great massacres of the tribes begin. After the battle of Little Big Horn, some female survivors decide to take up arms against the United States, which has stolen from the Native Americans their lands, their way of life, their culture and their history. This ghost tribe of rebellious women will soon go underground to wage an implacable battle, which will continue from generation to generation. In this final volume of the One Thousand White Women trilogy, Jim Fergus mixes with rare mastery the struggle of women and Native Americans in the face of oppression, from the end of the 19th century until today. With a vivid sense of the 19th century American West, Fergus paints portraits of women as strong as they are unforgettable.


Sophia Rose's Review:

After reading and being gutted by One Thousand White Women, I thought that was it for May Dodd, the Cheyenne, and the other women’s story.  Then I noted a book with a gorgeous cover which had me curious enough to check out the blurb.  I gasped with delight and a little trepidation to see that it was the final leg in a trilogy which began 20 years ago with the book I had read.  While I wasn’t sure if I could jump in on the third leg of the story, I decided to try since book two seems to follow the story of some of the other women.  I felt there was more story and the first one simply ended at a good spot so I was glad to see there was more.


Strongheart was a moving and heartwrenching story, no doubt, but it also told of a band women and their small family tribe who showed strength and resilience that was passed down through each generation.  I was curious to see what came of May Dodd and Molly McGill’s descendants and did when JW and Molly Standing Bear interacting in an uneasy collaboration to get the journals published.  Molly was determined that the record would be kept straight and would hold JW accountable not to take editorial liberties. 

But, framed inside their story was the ongoing saga of the Cheyenne white women wives who determined to fight after Little Bighorn and how they determined that their free band would live free and safe from the soldiers.  Hardships were aplenty and things got desperate, but love and happiness came with the trials for both May and Molly.  These strong women encountered men who valued and respected them for who they were and what they were trying to do.  My heart was in my throat so often and the mysterious reveals nearer the end had me curious whether it was all real or the diaries were fabricated.  I definitely wanted to believe that such a fate awaited those women who had captured my imagination.

I enjoyed both timelines and was reminded of the modern thread when there were Molly’s remarks in the journals and the intermissions, but the story that had me riveted was that of the women in the past. Living off the land, skirmishes, and growing closer as they survive against great odds, it was only a matter of time before the greater resources of the US Army would take its toll.  I did have one big niggle.  Once again, the story has some resolution, but also just seems to end.  I was left curiosity intact about Molly Standing Bear most of all.


Word of warning, I want to point out that the author wrote the past storyline attempting to mimic description and thinking of people in that historical time period so there will be obvious offensive behavior and words to our contemporary sensibilities.  Just as he presented some heartbreaking uncomfortable facts about current day Native American troubles.  It is not meant to be pretty and is meant to make the reader see something of the reality for the Cheyenne and other tribes.


So, in summary, this was a story with great impact on my heart and mind.  The story is fictional, but has an authentic tone and details about the American Plains, the plains tribes, and historical events.  I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy American History, Native American History, and don’t mind a dab of magical realism in the middle of it.


Author’s Bio:
Jim Fergus was born in Chicago in 1950 of a French mother and an American father. He attended high school in Massachusetts and graduated as an English major from Colorado College. He has traveled extensively and lived over the years in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Arizona, the French West Indies, and France. For ten years he worked as a teaching tennis pro in Colorado and Florida, and in 1980 moved to North Park, Colorado to begin his career as a full-time freelance writer. During the next two decades Fergus published hundreds of articles, essays, interviews and profiles in a wide variety of regional and national magazines and newspapers. His first book, a travel/sporting memoir titled, A HUNTER’S ROAD, was published by Henry Holt in 1992. In a review for the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kirsch called A HUNTER’S ROAD, “An absorbing, provocative, and even enchanting book.”

Fergus’s first novel, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN: The Journals of May Dodd was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1998. The novel won the 1999 Fiction of the Year Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association. A favorite selection of reading groups across the country, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN has since sold over a million copies in the United States. The French translation – MILLE FEMMES BLANCHES – published in 2000 won the “Best First Foreign Novel” award, and was on the bestseller list in France for 57 weeks.

In 1999, Jim Fergus published a collection of his outdoor articles and essays, titled THE SPORTING ROAD. His second novel, THE WILD GIRL: The Notebooks of Ned Giles was published by Hyperion Press in 2005, and came out in France the following year. An historical fiction set in the 1930’s in Chicago, Arizona, and the Sierra Madre of Mexico, THE WILD GIRL has also been embraced by reading groups and book clubs. Winston Groom, author of FOREST GUMP called it, “an exhilarating and suspenseful tale that makes the heart soar.”

In 2011, Fergus published a family historical novel in France entitled, MARIE-BLANCHE. The book spans the entire 20th century, and tells the devastating tale of the complicated and ultimately fatal relationship between the author’s French mother and grandmother.  Unfortunately MARIE-BLANCHE  has never found a home with an American publisher.

In the spring of 2013, Fergus published another novel in France: CHRYSIS: Portrait de l’Amour, a love story set in 1920’s Paris and based on the life of an actual woman painter, Chrysis Jungbluth. Reviewing CHRYSIS in French ELLE magazine, Olivia de Lamberterie,wrote: “This novel is an arrow through the heart.” CHRYSIS  was self-published the same year in America with the title THE MEMORY OF LOVE.

In 2016, the second volume of the ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMAN  trilogy, LA VENGEANCE DES MERES was published in France, and in 2017, THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS  was published in America. The third book of the trilogy, LES AMAZONES came out in France in 2019, and will appear in the U.S., titled STRONGHEART in late 2020.

Jim Fergus divides his time between southern Arizona, northern Colorado, and southwestern France.


Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Sophia’s Social Media Links:






  1. FANTASTIC review Sophia Rose! I read One Thousand White Women for my in-person library book club and was just blown away with the reality in that tome of fiction. And although it was fiction I, knowing how the government works sometimes, could see that exchange happening. I did not know it would go on to become a trilogy so thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I'm not sure I'm up to something this powerfully emotional but it is going on my list. xo

    1. I was startled to see there had been two more books after the first one. Definitely tugs at the heart and I don't blame you for hesitating.

  2. Sure sounds like an emotional trilogy. sounds like a good story though.

    1. Yes, it's not easy reading but is definitely a powerful story.

  3. Strongheart sounds like a fitting end to to what seems to be an emotional journey. Great review, Sophia.

    1. It sure was, Nadene. I really loved the first book, but felt there was more to the story so was glad to get this finish.

  4. It sounds so emotional and something I want to read

    1. It sure was and I thought it was a fabulous window into the Cheyenne life and that part of history with a powerful story, too.

  5. This sounds really good! I haven't heard of this series before but it sounds like an emotional story.

    1. The first one had me in tears and this one did once or twice, too. Definitely gets one emotionally involved. :)