Raveled Ends of Sky

Linda Sandifer, Author Forge $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-86378-4
Deriving her narrative from actual accounts of pioneer women, first-time author Sandifer tells an engaging adventure story of two unmarried women who make the arduous covered-wagon trek across country in the mid-1840s. Twenty-six-year-old Nancy Maguire's proper Massachusetts family strenuously argues against her leaving home to follow her dream of raising horses in the Mexican province of California. Nancy is reluctantly accepted by the Joseph Ballinger Chiles company to travel with them to California--but only if she can find a traveling companion. Fiery Lottie England, meanwhile, having decided that she has seen enough of Independence, Mo., the trip's starting point, joins up with Nancy and, in time, becomes her best friend. Anticipation builds as the wagons roll west: ""the canvas tops swayed with the motion, and from a distance, the train resembled a long white scarf rippling in the faintest of breezes."" Drenching her story in authentic detail, Sandifer vivifies the terrible hazards faced by these pioneers. While the author doesn't sustain the sense of drama as vigorously once the party reaches California, readers will remain involved with her appealing characters. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-8125-5509-7
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