Book Review | 40 YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS by Dolly Faulkner

  • Publisher: ‎ Dolly Faulkner
  • Published:   Jan 1, 2012
  • Paperback:  368 pages

My Review: 🌟🌟


Dolly Faulkner has many heart-stopping moments of terror and anxiety, living much of the time truly along in the Alaskan wilderness. But she is not lonely, as the awesome space and beauty of the mountains fill her with appreciation of all things of nature.

Dolly Faulkner came to Alaska as a young woman with the dream of living in the wilderness. This, her first book, is a true reality of carving out a homestead in the Kilbuck Mountains near a minor hotsprings that the regional Native corporation in now trying to claim. She is now a senior citizen, still living in the wilderness after the death of her husband. Her struggles and adventures continue, so she has many more stories to tell.

My Review:

This book was painful. I listened to it on audiobook while on a road trip, and I probably should have stopped listening after a few chapters. 

I had to remind myself (repeatedly) that this was a woman of a different generation. She is tough to live the life she leads, and she seems smart, but the relationship with her husband leaves me with a LOT of questions….

Dolly describes the crap her husband gets involved in, like it’s fact rather than dramatics. She talks about the deals he makes, that bring him into financial ruin, time and time again, or selling needed resources to survive. He even sends her off to make a deal for him, in order to get him out of hot water, rather than doing it himself. I get the impression it wasn’t the only time she did this.

Dolly talks about how her husband would leave her stranded in the Alaskan wilderness without a thought, having affairs or being too busy to get to the homestead, leaving her with little to survive on. She had very little communication, and often times unreliable, communication, in the early years. She relied on her husband heavily to bring her supplies before she became (mostly) sustainable. To be honest, it was a relief when the kids were old enough to get their pilot licenses and they kept her in supplies. I did wonder though, why Dolly would she not get her own pilot license? At least then she could get out when she needed to. (Her husband owned planes, for goodness sake!)

With a husband  who abused her mentally, emotionally and physically, why would she stay? I can only assume it’s a generational thing? Fear? I don’t know. I don’t even think someone telling her to leave him would have convinced her. She almost seemed brainwashed by him. There’s love, but then there’s toxic love.

This is not spoiler – she talks about it in the description – her husband dies… so there’s that. And she’s got to be credited in raising a strong, independent daughter, who accomplished a lot herself in her early years. (Not sure about Jillian’s life, post book, but her gumption is seriously impressive!) Now there’s a book I’d like to read!

But, just as you deal with the frustration with Dolly’s marriage, the books ends without revealing what happened to the homestead. This is the piece Dolly dangles the entire book. It’s the only reason I hung on. Upon doing a Google search, she’s still living at White Bear, so I guess all has worked out… ?

Honestly, there are better books on people’s experiences in Alaska. You expect frustration with the conditions and the challenges of living wild in Alaska, but when it’s self-inflicted, it is another level of frustration. Dolly has written two more books since this one, but I’ll check out Google to determine what happened, rather than buying another. I don’t need more frustration…

You can find more about the book here:


PLEASE NOTE: Affiliate links were used in this post. I do not promote anything I have not used or experienced myself. All opinions are my own. Please follow our advice at your own risk. By clicking these links allows me to receive a small commission, which in turn keeps the website running – and me writing! For that, I thank you.