Before Santa Fe had guest ranches for the well-heeled and Taos had colonies for artists, before Georgia O’Keeffe claimed Ghost Ranch and before the Southwest became a destination for them all, four gently-bred women shrugged off the constraints of Victorian society and lit out for the broader horizons of Indian Country.
The separate paths of Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber and Mary Cabot Wheelwright converged in this unlikely place, where they were redefined by the territory and in turn exerted their own unique influence. These unconventional women would have been lost to history were it not for author Lesley Poling-Kempes, who explored how their four stories intertwined and branched off into circles of acquaintances that extended from Walpi to the White House and included prominent artists, writers, musicians and cognoscenti of the Modern Era from both sides of the Atlantic.
Exhaustively researched and carefully documented, Poling-Kempes’ fine book views the experiences of these women through the lens of a social and intellectual climate on the cusp of change, providing a perspective, largely overlooked until now, of how women won the Southwest. — Helene Woodhams, Southwest Books of the Year 2015
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