Author Annabel Abbs studies and retraces the paths of several trailblazing women throughout history in her book Windswept: On The Path of Trailblazing Women. Abbs achieves a level of detail in retelling each of these accounts that provides familiarity with these historic women without recreating their entire individual biographies. We learn of the important contributions of each woman to society and their art, with a focus on specific issues and challenges that they each encountered. The primary focus of this book is the role that walking played in the lives of each of these figures, as well as the author of the book. Each character embarks on a life-defining journey of great length, breaking through barriers in doing so and emerging a different person at the end. These brave women did not all reach their ultimate goal but were invariably transformed by the journey.
These are not your average, leisurely strolls around town and this is not a passively reflective chronicle of their lives. These women walked in powerful strides and made bold steps. The tone of the book is decidedly defiant and empowering. These profiles allow us to learn of these women in motion, as they moved toward freedom and resisted the confining norms of their day. The challenges, failures, and pain of these historic women are encouraging and inspirational. They kept walking, committed to putting one foot in front of the other, in some cases even sacrificing family for their passion and desire to be free. The heroines of Windswept represent women in various geographies and time periods as well as different stages of life. From young mothers to women like Clara Vyvyan who was 67 years old when she completed her historic trek along the Rhone river.