Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Whip” as Want to Read:
The Whip
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Whip

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  6,073 ratings  ·  745 reviews
The Whip is inspired by the true story of a woman, Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst (1812-1879) who lived most of her extraordinary life as a man in the old west.

As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love with a runaway slave and had his child. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed as a man, to track the killer.

Charley became a renowned
Paperback, 1st, 294 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Hansen Publishing Group, LLC
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Whip, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jennifer Zambrano I wish there was a movie. the girl with the Tatoons could play Charley or even Charize.
I wish there was a movie. the girl with the Tatoons could play Charley or even Charize.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,073 ratings  ·  745 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Whip
May 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
I wanted to immerse myself into an interesting story of a stagecoach whip who was a woman impersonating a man, but the book's distracting elemental writing style read like a pre-teen fiction. I would not recommend it to preteens because of the repeated foul language (lots of F's), along with rapes, lynchings, and more rapes. I did not like the book's mini chapters that were 2-4 pages long (child-like abbreviated character and plot development), but after reading more about the creation of this b ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was disapointed by this novel but I'm clearly in the minority. I almost gave up on it but stuck it out till Charley starts dressing as a man and that was the first really interesting and genuine seeming part of the book. The first half is creating a fictional backstory and I felt the author was trying too hard. The second half was more engaging as it imagined how life would be for a transgender person. But the ending, like the first part, sank in overwrought melodrama and unbelievable circumst ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My review:

The Whip, a debut novel by Karen Kondazian was an excellent book! The Whip is historical novel which is based on a woman who lived as a man working as a stagecoach keeper – Charlotte Parkhurst. The Whip was well written and captivating book.

Regarding the plot:

The Whip introduced you to Charlotte who grew up in the orphanage in Massachusetts. Charlotte’s mom abandoned her and she has had a complicated and hard life from very early age. She was abused, beaten and to break her spirit she
3 stars, but only because I'm so intrigued by the person Charley Parkhurst. When I first heard about this book and of Charley Parkhurst, I couldn't wait to read it, and I had high expectations. I love historical fiction centered around someone who really existed (especially if there's an afterword explaining what is truth and what is fiction), but is not well-known, and I was looking forward to learning all about Charley Parkhurst's life.

Unfortunately, the book is not well-executed. First, ther
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are very few books these days that I devour in a single sitting. Too many things pull me away from reading, sadly. But tonight, I let all of my mom-duties lapse and left a sink full of dirty dishes so that I could lose myself in the world created by Karen Kondazian. This story is amazing, gripping, and completely captivating. I, literally, couldn't put it down. I don't want to give too much away, but it makes you wonder - how many people in the Wild, Wild West were not what they seemed?
Rachel Thompson
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but my mom recommended it and I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Kondazian is a very visual writer -- as I read, I was casting the movie in my head. Her characterizations are well-thought out and you get a complete picture of each key player. The way she wrote about Charley's life is poignant and real -- I even cried once (okay, twice).

I can't say enough about this book. It's not so much a western or a historical romance as it is a study in the human cond
Charlotte Liebel
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Recommended to Charlotte by: Karen Kondazian
`THE WHIP' by Karen Kondazian

[Charlotte M Liebel Review]

Brilliant and memorable are the lasting impressions you have after reading the final chapter of the debut novel, "THE WHIP" by Karen Kondazian. It is a novel commemorating a true legend of the Gold Rush Era in the person of a woman who survives the struggles of joblessness by reinventing herself.

Charlotte (Charley) Parkhurst was left in a basket at the door of an orphanage in Massachusetts on a cold day of March 1812. It is the baby's good
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Imagined life of Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst who from 1849-1879 and disguised as a man became one of the most renown stage coach drivers on the California frontier; her secret only discovered on her deathbed. Interesting story. Reads like a serial--lots of short, snappy chapters. Readers interested in the Old West will I am sure enjoy this novel.
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Karen Kondazian’s new novel THE WHIP is a fantastic discovery and an important addition to great, historical reads.

THE WHIP, set in the uncompromising Old West is inspired by the true story of an extraordinary woman, Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst who lived most of her tumultuous life as a male stagecoach driver.

As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love with a black man and had his child. He was lynched, her baby killed. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: donated-to-fol
On the back cover, it shows this book as Historical/Romance/Western. It hit on all of those areas nicely for me and had a great flow from the beginning to the end. I was never bored and couldn't wait to see what would happen to Charlotte "Charley" next. Some of it was heartbreaking, while some of it warmed my heart immensely.

This book was inspired by a true story of a woman who lived most of her life in the 1800's as a man. There were people she had worked with for years as a whip driving stagec
Robyn Jones
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
4 STARS! Stagecoach drivers, or whips, were heroes of the old west, and Charlie Parkhurst was one of the best. The world knew Charlie as a man until her obituary announced the truth. The Whip throws us into this amazing woman's life from the moment her infant body was left at church door steps in 1812 all the way to her death in 1879. With tenacity and a gentle heart, she survives childhood, falls in love with horses, hides away in the doldrums of life as an unmarried woman in that day, and fina ...more
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
There are stories and books that to come to you by chance and when you turn the very last page you feel invigorated because you found such a poignant and moving story, that is what happened with THE WHIP. Karen Kondazian weaves a story of American history where love crosses boundaries and where heartache and love is represented at it truest and rawest form. As a woman, I admired Charlotte "Charley" Packhurst. I was incredibly moved by her struggle and her will to make her own life, at some great ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
After everything that happened to her in her lifetime, I am not sure how Charley made herself get out of bed in the morning, let alone all she did with her life. Amazing read about a little known character in history, as well as interesting character studies of those who made up the old West. Kondazian does a fantastic job relating all the incidents in Charlie's life, without excess words to wring emotions from the reader, quite frankly what happened to her in her life is enough to make the read ...more
Sher BonDurant
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm honestly not a person who would typically go for a historical/Western style novel; however, I loved every single page of The Whip. The story and writing is so engaging, that it was hard to put down every time I started reading it.

The main character, Charley Parkhurst, is so full of emotion and determination that you find yourself feeling all of her ups and downs, and cheering her on as though she were a friend. Her never-ending determination inspires me.

I enjoyed reading this book so much th
Tara Chevrestt
Charley Parkhurst was a stagecoach driver for 30 years. Charley Parkhust was really Charlotte. She started out as an abandoned baby in on an orphanage step and became a drinking, shooting, tobacco spitting, revenge getting stagecoach driver. This is her story.

The orphanage: A cruel headmistress goes too far with her punishments. On one hand, she accidentally introduces Charley to her lifelong love: horses. On the other hand, she turns a kind and caring boy into the makings of a monster. This boy
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed this girly western story. Based on a true person, Charlee Parkhurst who was a stage coach driver in Sacramento California in 1860. Charlee was a woman living as a man. She lives as a man so long that she often forgets herself that she is a woman. She suffers many losses and lives a lonely life protecting her identity. She is not alone in her masquerade, many women went West to follow the gold dressing like men, doing a mans job. Fascinating historical fiction.
Bette Crosby
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this novel is based on a true story, certain aspects of it come off as unbelievable and the main character, while sympathetic, is not easy to get into. If swearing is something that turns you off, avoid this one.
Cathrine ☯️
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
The Whip by Karen Kondazian The Whip This was a mostly fictional story about a real person, Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, a woman living out her adult life as a male stagecoach driver, then logger, in the late 1800s. Very little is known about her since she took her secrets to the grave. Karen Kondazian managed a well written and entertaining story woven around what few facts are known, imagining how this might have come to be, so it’s main value is entertainment, much like many of the Hollywood ‘based on’ movies. St ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Whip grasps your attention and doesn’t let go. The story is very engaging. The short chapters keep the story moving quickly, and the plot takes unexpected twists. What I loved about this book was Charley’s character. Kondazian created a woman who was likeable, vulnerable and complicated.

The Whip, successfully gives the reader a sense of what it was like to be a stagecoach driver, and it left me wanting to know more about the real life of Charley Parkhurst. After I did a little research, I w
Sheri Meshal
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Whatever you're doing, put it down this instant. Go get a copy of The Whip. I mean it.

Karen Kondazian has a way with words that just about takes your breath away. She's smart, funny and unapologetic. Honestly, this is one of the best novels I've ever read. Heartbreakingly beautiful characters and truly unpredictable twists and turns had me panicked, repeatedly checking how many pages I had left. Ever cry because you've reached the end of a book? Have your tissues ready.
Kelly Durkee-erwin
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My friend Jeff DeCola did the cover art so I read the book...and I will read ANYTHING else of Karen Kondazians! This book is enticing, intriguing, and colorful! I picked it up intending to slog through it so I could say I read it - and it's WONDERFUL! I shouldn't be surprised but I was. What a great, high-speed ride along with the Stage Coach Drivers of old.

This is a short story 'loosely' based on the life of Charlotte 'Charley' Parkhurst 1812-1879. An American stagecoach driver who for the most part of his/her life spent it living as a man. I think that Charley's story holds a good deal of fascination and information about social history during this period, however the book reads too much like a fictional work to be taken to seriously.
Amy R
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I loved this book! It was hard to put it down whenever I picked it up. Ms. Kondazian really hit a home run when she chose to write about Charley Parkhurst and the life of a stagecoach driver.
Rod Brown
A real and interesting historical person gets a cheesy Hallmark movie treatment from a first-time author, an actress, adapting her own unproduced screenplay, Every time I found myself getting drawn into the book, the author would do something to throw me out again. The prose gets pretty purple throughout, especially during the sex scenes. And the whole conclusion relies upon several stupid coincidences, a predictable revelation, and the inevitable death of a side character that are just way too ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: transgender
First of all, before I get into the review, I have to point out that The Whip is an honest to gosh, cross my fingers, true story. It’s based on the life of Charley Parkhurst, a young woman who, following the death of her husband and child, spent much of the 19th century tracking down their murder . . . as a man.

This is an authentic old west tale, complete with a lynching, stagecoach chases, gun fights, and more. It’s the story of a woman who is so successful at being a man, not only is she allow
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indies, westerns
I bought the book because of the subject matter, thinking this would be a "historical fiction" with more of an emphasis on the "historical" then the "fiction." The author does make it clear she took liberties with the story (started out with the idea of the character, kept some important events from hir life, but made up a bunch of it), so I don't feel "deceived." This is an enjoyable read, a good story with interesting characters, but I don't know how much of it is true to Parkhurst's life. How ...more
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
high school & up

Charlotte was left on the steps of an orphanage when she was just a baby. Her only friend and protector was a boy 4 years older. When a new administrator arrives she takes an immediate dislike to "Charley" and her friend Lee. Charlotte is banished to the stables until she decides to begin acting more ladylike. Instead, Charlotte loves working with horses and falls in love with a man working in a livery. Unfortunately, it is the 1800s and the man she loves is black. After he and t
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
The 411:
I finished this book last night after starting it just the night before. Who would have thought you could make a book about a stage coach riders back in the 1800s and make it interesting. Wow, it is not only interesting but any book that forces me to research deeper in the main topic of the book is at the top of my list.

The better part of my morning was spent researching more information on Charley Parkhurst the most famous stage coach driver. Upon her death when neighbors came to prepa
Donna Brown
Is it a poor review that starts “I really don’t know where to begin”? It probably is but it is the truth. There is so much to Karen Kondazian’s historical fiction novel, The Whip, that I don’t know how to get it on to paper.

Let’s start with the facts. This is based on a true story and the central character is Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, a woman who found herself disguising herself as a male during her life on several occasions for different reasons. The Whip tells her story from childhood unt
As I was reading The Case of the Deadly Desperados this book fell into my hands. Since the time frame is similar as well as the western setting I decided to give it a go. This bio-novel is one of those fascinating stories of a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to make a life for herself in the "man's world" of the Wild West [see also the film Ballad of Little Jo for a similar story,]. The Whip is based on Charlie Parkhurst, a real person and, who ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Indigo Girl
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • Where the Lost Wander
  • In Sight of the Mountain
  • Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland
  • Hell Hath No Fury (A John Hawk Western)
  • The Giver of Stars
  • In Darkness, Look for Stars: An absolutely gripping, heartbreaking and epic World War 2 historical novel
  • Side by Side
  • Beauty from the Inside Out: Makeup • Wellness • Confidence
  • Show of Evil
  • When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike
  • The Sinner
  • The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy
  • Fathers And Daughters
  • King Lehr and the Gilded Age
  • The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own
See similar books…
Karen Kondazian's career as an actor, author, journalist and producer, started early in life... At the age of eight, Karen was chosen to be one of the infamous children on Art Linkletter's famous “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” The opportunity to miss school during tapings was all it took for Karen to abandon her life's goal of becoming a CIA spy and focus on acting.

She was born in Boston, complet

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
24 likes · 10 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Everything was temporary; she understood that now. All of this was temporary. It would all be snatched away. It was all on loan. Even the people we love. They were all on loan. One day you see their face across a rickety table or you pass them hurrying from here to there, or you see them leave you in your bed, and their profile passes you by...and you don't know...your thoughts somewhere else. And then they are snatched away forever and you did not know to say goodbye. You did not know.” 5 likes
“But then it came to her…just change your mind about it. About everything. Shit. That was it. "What an idiot she was. It was that simple. Just decide to stop struggling and embrace it all as a gift. And in a single second, everything is different.” 3 likes
More quotes…