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Monday, September 28, 2020

Prospects of a Woman...#BookReview

About the book
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.

The Gold Rush was one of my favorite parts of learning California history in the 4th grade. I've spent time in gold rush country and I love the Northern California area. So a book about a woman, set in that time period? Sign me up!

Elisabeth marries Nate, a man she barely knows to escape a life of poverty and despair in Massachusetts. Arriving in California, she discovers that life isn't any easier there. Her marriage isn't a happy one, because her husband, Nate, is a closeted gay man and she turns to another for affection. Working the claim they inherited from her father, the two struggle to make a living as well as a life. 

What I enjoyed most about Prospects of a Woman was California's progressive views about the roles of women and Elisabeth's understanding of the options she had there. She could own her own business. She could divorce her husband. She could make her own decisions. 

Elisabeth isn't an inherently likeable woman. But, her tenacity is to be admired. She writes letters to her friend, Louisa May Alcott, but while the letters give more insight into Elisabeth, we never see Louisa's responses, which would have given the story an added depth. 

Thanks to Netgalley and She Writes Press for the opportunity to read this book. You can learn more about Wendy Voorsanger on her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. That part of American history is unknown to me. I would have liked to read about this.