An excellent Western tale with a winning heroine.


In this YA novel, a debutante from California decides to escape her smug suitor and test her mettle as a teacher in a frontier logging town.

Beatrice Blake, 17, is leaving Oakland and heading to Snohomish, Washington. As it happens, her two Blake uncles have prospered there, and her brother, Stewart, the black sheep of the family, has joined them and invited Beatrice to the town. She will work there through the winter and spring, having promised to return to marry her arrogant suitor. Her mother is a toxic snob and overprotective, but Beatrice takes her stand, and her father, his own dreams faded, backs her up. To say that Snohomish is not as idyllic as Beatrice had envisioned would be a gross understatement. Although there are good people there, many are both suspicious and superstitious. Beatrice, on the other hand, has been badly infected with her mother’s prejudices so, for example, it takes her forever and much pain to accept the fact that Twasla, a half Native American, is not her social inferior. Beatrice then is fighting on two fronts: the insularity of Snohomish and her own deep biases. Wood (Langley, 2012, etc.) stirs the pot nicely, and for every step forward, Beatrice takes two steps back. The worst troubles occur when the smallpox plague strikes and kids die. Somehow Beatrice is blamed and branded a witch. For a time, it looks as if her life is in danger, but she refuses to scoot back to Oakland as Stewart urges. A few of the plot strands are a bit too pat (Stewart and Twasla become engaged). But while this is Wood’s debut novel, she is an experienced writer—with many nonfiction books under her belt—and it shows. Her tale should appeal to both the YA audience and older readers. The author has a deft hand with characters, especially Twasla and George Hess, who may turn out to be Beatrice’s great love. Readers should cheer as, after many difficult trials, the heroine finds the path to her true self. Along the way, she must determine whether she will stay in Snohomish and become the inspired teacher that she hoped she could one day be.

An excellent Western tale with a winning heroine.

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9656119-0-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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