Margaret Becker comes from Pennsylvania to Texas at the age of 12, along with her two brothers, her mother, and her father (a man so difficult that he antagonizes everyone he meets, up through and including Stephen Austin–indeed, the reader may feel a strong desire to reach through the pages and strangle him.) Margaret herself is competent and practical-minded, also a keen observer who likes to reflect on things …When Margaret is about 17, she marries the local schoolmaster, Horace (“Race”) Vining, who has come from Boston to a warmer climate at least in part because of his health problems; his intellectual and political interests, combined with his wide circle of friends, give her an good opportunity to observe the historic events now in their formative stages … I enjoyed this book and learned a lot both from the book itself and from the additional reading and video-watching which it inspired … Daughter of Texas helps in understanding the context of the Alamo story and the Texas independence movement as a whole, and does so in an interesting and very readable way. Recommended.
David Foster, at chicagoboyz.com – (complete review here)
The Texas frontier of the early 19th Century was hard on men, but even harder on women, who often had no choice but to deal with the reckless decisions of the men in their lives. Even in the best case, when a woman found respect and the love of neighbors and family, the harsh realities of the Texas frontier intruded, destroying crops, livestock, homes, and yes, the families and neighbors that made life worth living. Add to this the brutal impact of war and Revolution, and one can see that survival for anyone, woman or man, demanded not only strength and perseverance but the creative power to keep on discovering new ways to make a life … Daughter of Texas is intended to tell us that the Texas described above fashioned one woman, emblematic of many, who made the long pilgrimage from dreamy girlhood through the hardships of war and cruelty to find herself no longer the offspring of a domineering father but a “daughter” worthy of all that she had survived.
Texas Writer, on Amazon.com – (complete review here)
…Conventional literature and movie plotlines suggest that for a woman to survive in the Old West, she needed a strong and understanding father, an equally strong husband, or both.
Margaret Becker, the daughter of Texas in Celia Hayes’ evocative novel, is blessed with neither. Her German immigrant father is an impetuous hot-head who is tough on everyone, even cruel. Her husband is frail and consumptive, far happier with his books than the open range. To make matters worse, Margaret first sets eyes on her husband-to-be when she is only twelve and he’s a decade older.
These are only a few of the character and plot twists Hayes uses to keep us off-balance and intrigued. There is very little that is conventional in this time-machine of a book about the dawning of Texas. Even the Alamo is, as they say in the movies, just off-screen.
But the revolution and revolutionaries of Texas in the 1830s are very present in Margaret’s life. After she marries her beloved schoolteacher, Horace (Race) Vining, they both become entangled in the Texas War of Independence, which begins as distant thunder and becomes a raging firestorm that will consume their home, their possessions, and one of Margaret’s brothers before it reaches its scorched-earth conclusion …
Jack Shakeley, on The Internet Review of Books (complete review here)