One Glorious Ambition

Title:  One Glorious Ambition:  The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix
Author:  Jane Kirkpatrick
Pages:  367 (plus Q&A and author interview)
Year:  2013
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
Dorothea Dix had a difficult childhood.  She was poor, hungry and at a young age in charge of the care of her younger brother, Charles.  Her mother was not lucid much of the time and spent her time lying in bed.  Her father drank away any money they might have and beat his children with a switch when they didn’t work hard enough.  She was unloved and very lonely, which shaped her life.  Dorothea walked 40 miles at the age of 12 to beg her grandmother to let Dorothea and Charles live with her.  Her grandmother turned her away.  After a few years, however, Dorothea’s grandmother sent a wagon to bring Dorothea only to live with her.
During her time with her grandmother, who wanted Dorothea to marry in order to provide for her future, Dorothea had other plans.  She struggled to fit in, to be female and not lose that identity in a male dominated society.  She spoke her mind too much instead of being quiet.  She felt God had called her to be a teacher.  She soon taught morning, afternoons and evenings.  She opened a school for indigent children to learn so they might have better opportunities in life.  After a long illness during a journey to England, Dorothea began to think maybe teaching was not to be her glorious ambition to serve God.  She had thought her teaching a way to instill godly morals and values for spiritual well-being as well as teach skills to better earthly lives.  She develops a close friendship with another single lady and soon considers her the sister she never had.  However, when tragedy strikes her friend, their relationship dissolves, leaving Dorothea feeling even more alone and bereft than she thought possible.  She also tries to adopt her cousin’s young daughter, but again is rejected.  Her heart broken, Dorothea throws herself into her work and publishes her writings.  Even amidst this rejection, she doesn’t turn from God or searching for the one ultimate way she is meant to serve Him.  She stumbles upon her purpose when asked to teach a Sunday School class at the jail for incarcerated women.  Next door is where the mentally disabled people were housed.  After touring the house, Dorothea is appalled at the living conditions and petitions the local authority to have this corrected immediately.  Thus begins her tireless campaign for the rights of the mentally ill, their living conditions as well as their treatment.
This is a very interesting and informative fictional account of the life of a real historical person.  Such passion and devotion to a cause and to her faith are truly inspiring.  Dorothea’s call to aid “even the least of these” guided her adult life, making her famous, but also opening doors to meet those in a position to help her crusade.  This one woman through her generosity and tireless work made a huge difference in the lives of so many.  This just shows what God can do through one person who is willing to answer when He calls.
My rating is 5 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at
Post a Comment