In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866, the author, Katherine Kirkpatrick, mentions this book as another historical fiction (but for adults, rather than YA) account of "Mercer's girls."
While the book is technically about a girl who went on Mercer's expedition, it's not really *about* the expedition, at least not in my mind. The voyage doesn't even begin to start until page 94, and it's not until page 106 that the trip finally begins! You're almost 1/4 of the way through the book before the journey even starts! And in those 94 pages before the girls make their way to the boat, you get A LOT of story that didn't seem relevant. I didn't really care about the creep that the main character's cousin was supposed to marry. She's not even going to Seattle! Why do we care? And then once they did start on the voyage, Rucker skips huge chunks of time. I think it was mentioned that they were on the shores of New Jersey, then some stuff happened, with no reference to time or distance elapsed, and the next thing we know, they're in Rio! Then the main character has a romantic encounter with someone on the ship, and then they're in San Francisco! Wait a minute!! There should be a whole lot of time between those cities -- don't just skim over all the details of what happened on the ship! Seasickness! Confinement! The question of how everyone's going to pay for the trip! Give me more than "Oh, he was dreamy. I'm so happy! But he's a scoundrel! No, I'm still happy! Now we're in love! Ta-da! We're on the other side of the continent! We've arrived!"
This book might be okay if you're more into the romance of the story, and care less about the actual Mercer story. If you want to read about Mercer's expedition and the trials and tribulations of bringing a boatload of women to help teach, nurse for, and populate a wilderness town, this isn't the book for you. And since I don't care about romance stories (How many times do we need to talk about a young woman's breasts?!?) or girl-meets-boy / happily-ever-after stories, and I *do* want to read about Mercer's trip, then this wasn't the book for me....more
Like The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the ELike The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the East Coast to Seattle to help populate the new city. In contrast, however, The Voyage of the Continental is mainly about the trip itself, but Petticoats West focuses more on life after the ships arrived in Seattle and the girls starting their new lives.
Whereas The Voyage of the Continental had a lot of history, and was researched using Roger Conant's journal and articles about the trip, Petticoats West is much lighter in the factual history, but much richer in details about the surroundings and other descriptions....more
This didn't get five stars from me because "Oh my God, this is the Great American Novel." It got five stars from me because it was a good, cozy, mysteThis didn't get five stars from me because "Oh my God, this is the Great American Novel." It got five stars from me because it was a good, cozy, mystery read. It starts as one mystery, but then includes other unsolved mysteries and new mysteries; it was well-written (which, sadly, tends to get books bonus points from me. Shouldn't *all* professionally published books be well-written?); it's historical fiction; the characters are well-developed (which, I'm guessing, is a result of being the child of two of them); and I was trying to guess whodunnit and why all through the book, which means Roosevelt had a good plot and good clues).
It was a good read, and I often found myself not wanting to go to bed at night, even though my eyes kept closing, because I didn't want to stop reading it! ...more
What a fabulous book! The overarching story weaves together the individual stories of Pasquale, an Italian who runs a not-so-successful hotel; Dee, anWhat a fabulous book! The overarching story weaves together the individual stories of Pasquale, an Italian who runs a not-so-successful hotel; Dee, an unconventionally beautiful actress from America; Pat, a ne'er-do-well American musician; Claire, a young woman in the movie industry who is fed up with the movie industry; Alvis Bender, an "author" who can't seem to write; Shane, who has a Big Idea for a movie; and Michael Deane, The Hollywood Executive.
It's a pretty fascinating story, told in time-travel format (We're in Italy in 1962. Now we're in Hollywood, "recently." Now it's Seattle in the late '60s. Now back to Italy in 1962. Hollywood "recently." Idaho!). Their stories are beautifully written, and their characters are beautifully developed. I love the time-travel format, and it's probably what made me power through this book so fast -- I wanted to see how all the different time frames and threads were going to come together.
(And it's not really historical fiction about the northwest, but there were so many great drop-ins about Seattle in the 1960s, or today, or the '70s, that I felt like I was at home :) )...more
Being a lover of Seattle and local history, I was ashamed (ashamed!) that I'd never watched Here Come the Brides. Last year, I decided I needed to sitBeing a lover of Seattle and local history, I was ashamed (ashamed!) that I'd never watched Here Come the Brides. Last year, I decided I needed to sit down and watch the show, which then led to me becoming curious again about the Mercer girls, the women Asa Mercer brought from the East Coast to Seattle for all the men who were settling the town. I knew who/what they were, but not a whole lot about them, and especially not the trip. I think I sort of knew they took a boat, but when I saw it on the TV show, I was surprised that they didn't go by land, so I obviously didn't remember my seventh-grade history all that well. I did some searching for books about Mercer, the girls, and the trip, and one of the books I came up with was this YA historical fiction account.
I think I might have to whistle "The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle..." to myself the entire time I'm reading it :)
So now with my whistling done, it's time to review the book. It was a pretty good YA historical fiction book. The main character, Emeline, is likable, and her diary entries are full of details and information. She starts as a strong-minded but sometimes shy (she has troubles with her speech, which prevents her from getting her point across at times) girl, but progresses into a strong-minded and well-spoken young woman. She's definitely a girl-power character for young girls. There's a murder mystery subplot that I could have done without, but maybe that was supposed to be the key to keeping the young readers' attention. (But there's a boat of women traveling from New York down to the tip of South America and back up north to Seattle, to the wilderness! You don't need a mystery subplot! That storyline is wacky enough!)
But the book is fabulous with the historical fiction angle, and Kirkpatrick even ends it with research notes, describing where her story followed actual events, and where it was fictional. I think the research notes would be great for keeping the interest of a young reader who just finished the book, and perhaps leads them into wanting to learn more about the actual voyage.
The one thing that made me sad, though, is what a scoundrel and schemer (for real, apparently) Asa Mercer was. When you grow up in a city where streets and schools and buildings are named after people, you assume they were good people, and you don't want your illusions to be shattered. Now, I know Asa Mercer was part of a large family who helped build Seattle, so Mercer Street and Mercer Arena aren't necessarily named for Asa; however, he's still a Mercer, so you want him to be good! And I know these expeditions were a hard sell, and sometimes circumstances went against him, even if he had good intentions, it just turns out he wasn't perfect! *sigh* Do we have to rename Mercer Street now?
And of course, as is my luck, in Kirkpatrick's notes she mentions a few other historical fiction works (Cargo of Brides and Petticoats West) that deal with Mercer's girls, so now I've added two more books to my to-read list. *sigh* Luckily, Roger Conant's account (Mercer's Belles), which Kirkpatrick used as source material, was already on my to-read list, so that was one less book to add! :)...more
Well! Talk about a twist -- Jamie Ford did on page 74 what I thought wouldn't be done until page 300-something. What a twist -- of the advertising! ToWell! Talk about a twist -- Jamie Ford did on page 74 what I thought wouldn't be done until page 300-something. What a twist -- of the advertising! To me, it seemed like the book was being promoted as a story about a *search*, but the answer comes so much earlier than I'd expected! The rest of the 319 pages are spent with backstory, and what seems to be becoming Ford's calling card of playing with time (it's possibly even Aaron Sorkin-esque), and a second search.
Songs of Willow Frost is another beautifully-written story by Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. This one wasn't *quite* as good as Hotel, for me anyway--I think just because the style, tone, and story were SO new and refreshing in Hotel, but now I've seen it before, so book #2 isn't as groundbreaking--but it was good. At times it felt like the Seattle landmarks were being referenced waaay too often, but then I decided "Screw the national audience. I'm from Seattle, and I enjoy all these references! phhhht!" :)
The story (the collective Story of William's story, Willow's story, Charlotte's story, Colin's story, Willow's family's story) is sad (Sad), then there's hope, then there's not, then it's tragic and depressing, then there's hope, then there's not, then it's heartbreaking, then ... there's hope? AND THEN IT ENDS! DAMNIT! But luckily I read the *entire* book... I almost lost faith in mankind (i.e. Jamie Ford) in the next-to-last chapter... then he redeemed himself ;) And I choose to believe that after he and the rest of us left WIlliam and Willow, there was happiness in their lives. Even though we didn't get to see it, I think (hope) it was there. ...more
This book has all the markings of being a self-published book or a book written by a new author and published by one of those "Anybody can write a booThis book has all the markings of being a self-published book or a book written by a new author and published by one of those "Anybody can write a book!" publishing houses. Commas are in weird places, quotation marks show up randomly, spacing is off, some sentences and paragraphs seem to just start from nowhere, characters are confused for other characters and spelling is changed...
But, if you live in the north-of-Seattle area, there is a bright spot to the book! You know about the topic and the people mentioned!
I was told about this book (and warned that it wasn't that good) because it takes place near where I live. In the 1880s, a young couple moves out to Washington Territory and become homesteaders. So I decided to read it, because I can't pass up the opportunity to read about local history, even if the book isn't that good. So I've been reading it, and today, one of the main characters gets to my area. And as I'm reading, I'm practically shouting, "I know that place! I know him!" (well, as well as you can "know" someone who was born 150 years before you were. But I've been to his grave, so that should count for something.).
It turns out there's quite a bit of real history in this historical fiction book. The towns (like Edmonds), the roads (Cedar Way, which I realize probably isn't that uncommon of a name), the logging camp that was here at the time (Mosher and McDonald), and a whole lot of people (George Brackett, John Lund, Matilda Lund, and all her Deiner children). So it seems like it's been worth it to wade through all the random commas to get to the glorious moment of "I live there! For real!" It's also made me want to do a little research to see if the rest of the characters are real people. I mean, if she named George Brackett, John Lund, Matilda Lund, and all the Deiner children, maybe John Thomas, Sara Brandt, Bill Walton, and the rest of them are real, too.
So it's not a great book, but also not a bad book, but it gets points for sentimental reasons....more
A re-read. I think a friend recommended it to me soon after it originally came out, and it sounded so interesting, I got it from the library and LOVEDA re-read. I think a friend recommended it to me soon after it originally came out, and it sounded so interesting, I got it from the library and LOVED it. I loved it so much, it's one of the few books I've allowed myself to purchase/ask for for a holiday/re-read in the past few years. And boy, it didn't disappoint. How often is a book (or movie, or any experience, for that matter) as good the second time around as it was the first time? For me, this book definitely was!