The House That Dorothy Built

A Story of Tragedy and Triumph

Non-Fiction - Self Help
400 Pages
Reviewed on 01/29/2017
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Author Biography

I was a 38-yr. old single mom/waitress with 2 kids, and no child support, who desperately wanted my own house in the country, so I found a way to build it for pennies on the dollar by doing the labor myself. I developed 10 acres into a beautiful oasis over the years, and found the love of my life along the way. My love story is as inspirational as achieving my homesteading goals. My book tells all, and is a mixture of how-to, determination, philosophy, humor, and love. I wrote it to inspire others who are economically challenged to do the same.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

The House That Dorothy Built by Dorothy Ainsworth is an empowering nonfiction work about a woman who takes a chance on an unforgettable dream. This is a collection of articles that Ainsworth has written for Backwoods Home, with advice and how-to guides that contain humor and personal anecdotes of her life. Her story is an inspiring message for people to pursue their dreams, no matter how crazy they sound, and to triumph in the face of struggle. She includes the moment the house she built burned to the ground, and how they rebuilt a new one. Her story is remarkable, because she kept persisting and never gave up. From building a tree house to making a log crib to eating healthily on a budget, there's something for everyone to relate to.

One of the important things about nonfiction is for the narrator to be likable. When the narrator isn't, everything falls apart. Dorothy Ainsworth doesn't have this problem. She's honest, laid-back, and friendly, making The House that Dorothy Built a charming story of hope, persistence, and determination. The advice in her how-to articles isn't patronizing; it's uplifting and helpful. Her sense of humor is subtle, but effective: “When a tornado hits, this Dorothy will see you in Kansas.”

In one article, she talks about wanting her story to be “an inspirational human-interest story that may help men and women alike throw off the shackles of convention and forge ahead with their own dreams of affordable alternative lifestyles.” This spoke volumes to the theme of her message in each article. Each piece of advice she shares from her own life is to help other people have courage and faith in themselves, to believe that they can do anything. A must-read for anyone chasing a dream, or building a house.

Gisela Dixon

The House That Dorothy Built: A Story of Tragedy and Triumph by Dorothy Ainsworth is an autobiographical novel about Dorothy’s life, revolving around her building and constructing projects on her own 10 acres of land in Ashland, Oregon. The House That Dorothy Built starts off with Dorothy’s introduction to herself, her life as a mother with children who supports them by working as a waitress, and her dream to own and build on her own piece of land while being self-sufficient and self-providing all of the basic needs. The book centers heavily around how she bought a wide expanse of land in Oregon, built a home and all amenities on it almost single-handedly, and her triumphs and challenges as she struggles to rebuild her home and property after a devastating fire destroys it. The book contains detailed instructions, how-to’s, and tips on construction, and the way to go about building things on your land, as well as pictures sprinkled throughout for reference.

The House That Dorothy Built: A Story of Tragedy and Triumph by Dorothy Ainsworth is an interesting read because Dorothy has managed to break into a “man’s domain” by building her own home, learning to use tools, and providing her own water and electricity on her land, among other things. The book also talks about her relationships, her family, and the numerous pets and animals that she has encountered over the years. I thought the bit on falconry was especially interesting. The pictures provide a good visual of her building projects and, overall, I thought this was an interesting read.

Susan Sewell

Did you ever dream of building your home, but are afraid of failure? Don't think you have enough money, but long to try? The House That Dorothy Built by Dorothy Ainsworth is the account of a single woman's journey to realize her lifelong dream, and the components that made it possible. Although Dorothy's childhood home was happy, the house she grew up in was small and her family large. Dorothy yearned for a place of her own. As she grew older and started a family, Dorothy's ambition to have a place that exclusively belonged to her intensified. Even when she was left to raise two small children alone on a waitress's salary, Dorothy never lost her perspective. When she found the property that worked for her, Dorothy managed to get a loan. When she wasn't waitressing, Dorothy began making her dream come true, with an old pick up and one log at a time. By trial, error, and her sheer will, Dorothy created her estate. With her ingenuity, single-minded determination, backbreaking hard work, and sweat, Dorothy accomplished what others only dream about. How did she do it on twelve thousand dollars a year? What is her secret?

The House That Dorothy Built by Dorothy Ainsworth is an inspiring narrative about how a single mother, Dorothy, met and attained her goals, despite the obstacles with which she was confronted. The author shares how she accomplished such a monumental task with detailed instructions and sound advice. Many subjects are covered that are relevant to establishing a homestead, and some that just make a home more enjoyable, such as tree houses and go-carts. The noteworthy information given contains guidance on putting in a well, making a hen house, how she built her log structures, and many, many more essential topics. Although the author claims that she is no expert and suggests the reader research for themselves, this documentation of her experiences are a marvelous, do it yourself "how to" book that will inspire those who aspire to be self-reliant.