Crow Mary: A Novel
In the late 1800s, Goes First was one of the most determined Crow women of her time. Her marriage to a white fur trader forces Crow Mary to balance between two worlds and cultures while trying to protect both her family and her people.
The New York Times bestselling author of the book club classics The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything returns with a sweeping and “richly detailed story of a woman caught between two cultures” (Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author) inspired by the real life of Crow Mary—an Indigenous woman in 19th-century North America.
In 1872, sixteen-year-old Goes First, a Crow Native woman, marries Abe Farwell, a white fur trader. He gives her the name Mary, and they set off on the long trip to his trading post in Saskatchewan, Canada. Along the way, she finds a fast friend in a Métis named Jeannie; makes a lifelong enemy in a wolfer named Stiller; and despite learning a dark secret of Farwell’s past, falls in love with her husband.
The winter trading season passes peacefully. Then, on the eve of their return to Montana, a group of drunken whiskey traders slaughters forty Nakota—despite Farwell’s efforts to stop them. Mary, hiding from the hail of bullets, sees the murderers, including Stiller, take five Nakota women back to their fort. She begs Farwell to save them, and when he refuses, Mary takes two guns, creeps into the fort, and saves the women from certain death. Thus, she sets off a whirlwind of colliding cultures that brings out the worst and best in the cast of unforgettable characters and pushes the love between Farwell and Crow Mary to the breaking point.
From “a tremendously gifted storyteller” (Jim Fergus, author of The Vengeance of Mothers), Crow Mary is a “tender, compelling, and profoundly educational and satisfying read” (Sadeqa Johnson, author of The Yellow Wife) that sweeps across decades, showcasing the beauty of the natural world, while at the same time probing the intimacies of a marriage and one woman’s heart.
Praise for Crow Mary: A Novel
“Grissom offers an ambitious account of bravery and initiative inspired by the true story of a Crow woman who married a white man in late-19th-century Montana…With a flashback-heavy narrative, Grissom effectively conveys how Mary’s Crow childhood stays with her over the course of her new life. This moving story of one woman’s grit, survival, and resilience will keep readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly
“Kathleen Grissom is a tremendously gifted storyteller. Here she combines intensive research and her own superb novelistic skills, to unveil one of our nation’s darkest eras. In the process she brings back to life her narrator, the real Crow Mary—a native American woman who with love, wit and pure strength of character, not only survives these seemingly impossible times, but prevails against all odds. A riveting tale, beautifully told.”
—Jim Fergus, author of The Vengeance of Mothers
"My favorite novels shine a light on women that history books have forgotten. Over twenty years ago, Kathleen Grissom heard about an incredible woman named Goes First, and Crow Mary is worth the wait. While reading Crow Mary, I couldn’t help but think of My Antonia by Willa Cather, and the debt we owe to the women who came before us."
—Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library
"Crow Mary left me breathless. Kathleen Grissom has the gift of waking up the past with fever, illuminating an aspect of American history that few know. Each page engulfed me in a world of conflict, love, and heartache. Tender, compelling, and a profoundly educational and satisfying read. The strength and sheer bravery of Crow Mary will stay with me for a long time."
—Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of The Yellow Wife and The House of Eve
“Kudos to Grissom for weaving truth into masterful storytelling about Crow Mary’s epic journey. The result presents the fragile legacy of an emancipated woman determined to make her own destiny. Prepare to marvel at the strength and wisdom of Crow Mary. She is a heroine for all times.”
—Leah Weiss, bestselling author of If the Creek Don't Rise and All the Little Hopes
"I fell into the world of Crow Mary utterly and completely. It’s a superbly spun tale about a life that deserves to be told."
—Martha Conway, author of The Physician’s Daughter
"Crow Mary is a richly detailed story of a woman caught between two cultures. You’ll be captivated by Mary’s strength and determination as she struggles to save her family and her people from destruction. A compassionate and deeply satisfying novel."
—Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author of Where Coyotes Howl