Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Prospects of a Woman, by Wendy Voorsanger {ends 10/28}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Show me how to use it,” she said.

From a stool in the pine grove, Nate explained how to stuff powder into the Hawken and ram a wad of grass down the barrel with a rod, like he’d been shooting his whole life, when she knew he’d spent his childhood in a Cambridge townhouse. His knowledge of rifles ended with stuffing the barrel, so she rolled up her sleeves, setting up targets of pine cones and stickers, imitating the shooting position she’d seen her father use when hunting deer back on the orchard in Concord. She’d grown strong in the West, and handling the shotgun proved easy, even with the kickback. She practiced shooting at the targets and reloading the barrel until her face smeared with gunpowder.

“We need some help,” said Nate, running a hand through his blond hair growing out long.

“I know,” she said, resetting the targets.

“Digging. The two of us won’t do.”

“I know!” she said, irritated at him for explaining like she was dim-witted. “That’s why I’m working on getting us something to eat.”

She threw the small sack of gunpowder over her shoulder and set off into the woods in search of food with Yellow Dog loping behind.

“Be careful, ‘Lizbeth!” he called out.

Historical fiction bringing out a woman’s perspective of the migration to the California gold rush? While there are certainly as many stories as there were prospectors, this one was definitely fascinating.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Prospects of a Woman, by Wendy Voorsanger {ends 10/28}
Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. But she soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity. She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio. Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness. A gripping and illuminating window into life in the Old West, Prospects of a Woman is the story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy.


Elisabeth Parker honestly isn’t a very likable character. Sometimes that can make the whole book unenjoyable, but in this case, every time she made a choice, there was seldom an obvious better one. Surviving the western frontier in the mid-1800s was not a likable existence in many ways.

The story of Elisabeth Parker’s adventures out west is intriguing and well-written. She quickly has to put aside what she considers her role as a lady, and learn an entirely different skill set for survival. She learns not only how to shoot, how to dig for gold, and modification of her wardrobe to more effectively perform these tasks, she also perfects how to use her femininity to help turn the odds in her favor (without sacrificing her honor), and about the additional rights California provides a woman without the consent of her husband or father. One of the more amusing aspects of the book was the sharing of Miss Parker’s letters to Louisa May Alcott. In her letters, the reader sees what Miss Parker’s dream existence out West would have been (passed off as fact to keep her friend from worrying).

The Prospects of a Woman is a unique and interesting telling of a woman’s struggles to prosper in a whole new world that she previously knew nothing about. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for anyone with an interest in this time period, or historical fiction in general. 

{click here to purchase - only $9.49 for Kindle currently!}

Becki Bayley appreciates her heated mattress pad, caffeine in the morning, and the convenience of grocery delivery. She also blogs at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Prospects of a Woman!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, October 28th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

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