THE ROAD LIES WEST by Elizabeth Howard


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Tried and true values are exhibited in this story of a girl on her own in the 1840's but a closer look reveals the actions as melodramatic and unexplained. Orphaned early, Melissa Lowery has been living with Granny Ellis in Pennsylvania. She is totally bereft when Granny dies, and starts walking west, hoping to meet a friendly family in a train. The Parmenters, mother, father and grown son Abel, are the ones who take her in, but what they have in friendliness they lack in honesty- for they are hawkers of a sure all. It is an odd set of circumstances that materializes when Melissa and the Parmenters join forces. Abel and his father discover Melissa can sing- to help sell their medicine. Her voice then attracts Frank Kendall, a theatre manager who offers Melissa a career. Discouraged by the Parmenters' dishonesty. Melissa seizes the opportunity, but not before she discovers that Mr. Parmenter is the family bullwhip who coerces a basically reluctant Abel and his mother to make the medicine rather than an honest living. Then, with Frank, Melissa discovers his dishonesty- in time to return to a happy future with the repentant Abel. So far, this author's work has had a certain strength (see Summer Under Sail, A Star to Follow etc.) but weak character study does not reinforce it here.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1955
Publisher: Morrow