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Traces by Patricia L. Hudson

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In an Author’s Note at the beginning of this novel, Patricia Hudson writes, “Rebecca, Susannah, and Jemima Boone are among those women whose words have been lost. There’s only a trace [my italics] of them in the tales told about the celebrated explorer, Daniel Boone.” Rebecca was his wife, and Susannah and Rebecca were his two oldest daughters. For twenty-five years, Patricia Hudson, a free-lance journalist and author of non-fiction books, delved deeply into the scant information available about the women of the Boone party, including enslaved women, as well as the women of the Cherokees and the Shawnees who interacted with them directly and indirectly. She talked with historians, biographers, re-enactors, contemporary Cherokees and Shawnees, and retraced the steps of these three women in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri. That is amazing, but what is equally impressive is Patricia Hudson’s command of the language of fiction and her extraordinary ability to bring her characters and setting to life. The combination of her calling to include the excluded, her research diligence and acumen, and her adroit stylistic artistry make this first novel exemplary and compelling. "In Traces Patricia Hudson rescues Rebecca Boone and her daughters from the shadow of the celebrated Daniel. This vivid narrative brings the Boone women delightfully alive. Independent, resourceful, they provide a window on a significant era of our history. The novel dramatizes conflicts and tragedies, as well as desire, loyalty, and abiding love. You will not forget this story of a significant family on the frontier of the young Republic."―Robert Morgan, author of Boone: A Biography, "Patricia Hudson's lyrical yet riveting debut novel Traces is an exceptional work of historical fiction, an intimate portrait of the forgotten women in Daniel Boone's life, set against the vast backdrop of the American frontier. I couldn't stop turning pages, spellbound and enlightened both at once. I know I'll be thinking about these faithfully-rendered characters and their inspiring life stories for a long time to come."―Amy Greene. "Toward the end of Patricia Hudson's Traces, Daniel Boone reads John Filson's The Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boone aloud to his family. His wife Rebecca has already heard it, laughing at some of its myth-making, while noting that Filson mentions neither her nor any of her ten children by name. Never mind that she had sheltered and fed him during the weeks he lived in her house to interview Daniel. Never mind that they had 'washed [his] clothes and grained his horse and emptied his chamber pot.' Filson's Boone says of blazing the trail to Kentucky, 'Soon I began this work, having collected a number of enterprising men, well armed.' 'Not just men,' Susannah, their eldest daughter says. 'Dolly and I were on that journey,' Susannah as camp cook and Dolly as the enslaved servant of Colonel Calloway. 'We were there,' Susannah [says], 'but no one will remember us.' In your hands you hold that remembering."―George Ella Lyon.

Lexington: Fireside Industries/University Press of Kentucky, 2022. 288 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.