Book Review: The Cowkeeper’s Wish

What would you give up and how far would you go to make a better life for yourself? Would you pack up what little you had and leave your loved ones and your rural homeland to seek your fortune in the big city? Would you walk 250 miles over mountains and moors while driving a herd of cattle to forge a new destiny? Just what would you do?


In the book, The Cowkeeper’s Wish: A Genealogical Journey, authors Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen Den Hartog tell the tale of a 1840s cowkeeper and his wife who uprooted themselves from the coast of Wales to forge a new and better life in London, England. Unfortunately, instead of improving their lot, the couple fell deeper into poverty.

This book documents their lives, as well as those of their children and grandchildren, who fared little better. Generations of the cowkeeper’s kin lived and died in the London slums. Through workhouses and insane asylums through heartache and world war, this family faced each challenge, together. Although some succumbed to the hardships, others survived and thrived. Eventually, one young descendent followed in her great-grandparents’ footsteps, embarking on her own journey to a better life and leaving behind the London of old for the London of the New World.

From the Victorian era to the Great Depression from The Women’s Suffrage Movement to The Great War, The Cowkeeper’s Wish gives insight into England’s (and even Canada’s) past as seen through the eyes of one working-class family. With only a few family stories and myriad family photos, the authors scoured through archives, newspapers, and maps to trace their predecessors’ blue-collar lives and write them into the pages of history.

Through comprehensive research and consummate storytelling, The Cowkeeper’s Wish is sure to thrill history aficionados, as well as inspire genealogists to delve deeper into their own ancestors’ lives.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Douglas & McIntyre publishers, courtesy of the authors Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen Den Hartog. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cowkeeper’s Wish

  1. Carol Radowenchuk

    I almost always think to myself after reading one of your book reviews, I should save this because it sounds like I would enjoy reading it. Today I went back through this year’s posts and saved them to Pinterest. I just know that, eventually, I will find the time to read them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Jude's Threshold and commented:

    Sounds as if The Cowkeeper’s Wish has everything!

    Liked by 1 person

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