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Robert E. Kearns
A Sporting Life

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Sarah and Thomas Woodford travel west in search of a better life. En route Thomas takes ill and dies leaving Sarah to look after herself. Remaining for a time with the wagon train, a man she befriended betrays her and she soon discovers she's alone in the frontier town of Parish without much except for her meagre savings. Lodging at Parish's sole hotel, Sarah must eke out a living to survive, hoping all the while she'll save enough money to pay for her passage home. When things don't work out as planned, Sarah is forced to make a choice she'd never have considered possible. A Sporting Life is an account of courage, hardship and the ultimate realization that success can stem from the most tragic of circumstances.
Readers' Favorite

Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite

A Sporting Life by Robert E. Kearns is a touching short story about a young couple, Sarah and Thomas Woodford, who joined The Oregon Trail hoping to make a better life in the unfamiliar Midwest. The long, arduous journey took its toll on Thomas and he died. Grieving, Sarah is left to fend for herself against the harsh wilderness and conniving men but is determined to survive. A man she hired to assist her on the journey stole her possessions, abandoning her in the town of Parish. Destitute, Sarah befriended a blacksmith who tried to help her find a job. But the townsfolk were not friendly to the young and beautiful widow. Sarah swallowed her pride and took a job in the saloon as a bar girl, hoping to make enough money to return to her family. But good morals don’t belong in a saloon as Sarah soon found out.

I’ve often read about The Oregon Trail and know that it was a very dangerous and traumatic journey with many illnesses and deaths. The part I didn’t reflect on at all was brought to my attention by Robert E. Kearns. Although A Sporting Life is fictional, Sarah’s dilemma was realistic and the author thoroughly expounded on how her unfortunate predicament could have happened to some women who were on the frontier Oregon Trail. They probably had to resort to prostitution to survive when their plans went awry. Sarah is a remarkable woman with a good nature who weathered the battles well. I enjoyed reading this novella.