The Narrow Journey

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In The Narrow Journey, Deborah Clawson Johnson tells the story of Lucie Trosclair, a young Cajun girl in nineteenth century Louisiana. The character is based on the author’s great-grandmother, who she says has inspired all her female descendants.

Every day in the home of her selfish, ignorant uncle Neg Robichaux makes Lucie Trosclair more determined to leave. Since she is no beauty, she does not expect to find love. However, the plantation owner’s son, Charles Gaspard, finds Lucie delightful, and she cannot resist him. Soon the pair are headed west together.

Having made her choice, Lucie accepts the consequences. She does not complain about their frequent moves, for she knows that a bounty hunter is on their trail. She remains committed to Charles, though he drinks heavily and gambles away both his winnings and what Lucie earns as a cook. By the time they get to Leadville, Colorado, Charles is dying of consumption, and this time Lucie cannot help him. On the run again, they lose their way in a sudden snowstorm, and Charles dies in Lucie’s arms.

Though Lucie survives, now she has another problem. She is marooned in the mountain cabin of a man called O’Neill, who clearly resents the intrusion. Eventually O’Neill is won over, and the two become friends, then lovers. However, when she announces her pregnancy, O’Neill wants no more to do with her.

In the final chapters of this superbly-crafted first novel, Lucie continues her “narrow journey” to adulthood without O’Neill. However, by doing so, she wins a love more fulfilling than she would ever have imagined.