Awesome read, excellent narrative, perfect blend of fact and fiction, and though Charley faces an incredibly sad amount of misery and misfortune, the book managed to make me laugh at times as well as shake my head in sympathy....numerous things throughout the book made me chuckle and overall, the book has made a huge impact on me. It's also about a very strong woman, probably one of the strongest women I have ever read about. Life kept beating her down and she kept getting back up, minus one eye or minus a man and a baby, but never without her determination. --Book Babe, August 30, 2011
Charley Parkhurst (1812-79) was one of the finest stage coach drivers Wells Fargo had during the dangerous gold rush days. But there's one thing Wells Fargo never knew about Charley: Charlotte was a woman. In her fiction debut, actress Kondazian (The Actor's Encyclopedia of Casting Directors) dares to imagine the life such a dedicated disguise artist might have lived. Mistreated in an orphanage and sent to live in the stables, where she learned all there was to know about horses, fictional Charley grows up to be a servant in a boardinghouse. When she falls in love with an African American blacksmith, she is ostracized. And when her husband is lynched and her only daughter killed, Charley dresses as a man to apply for work with a stage coach company, aces the hands-on audition, and is sent west. She learns to swear, gamble, and smoke, and her life as a "whip" rewards her well. Yet underneath all the swagger and staunchness, Charley is a broken soul in many ways. VERDICT This quick-paced, wily tale is a fascinating blend of both fact and fiction that is sure to engage Western and historical fiction fans and readers who enjoyed Gerald Kolpan's Etta. --Keddy Ann Outlaw, LIBRARY JOURNAL, November 2011
One thing I really like about this job is that I get to discover promising new talent far outside of the world of agents, New York publishers, academics, and establishment book reviewers. Karen Kondazian's debut novel, The Whip
, is in that category. Her well-written work, based on a true story, displays all the confidence of a seasoned novelist. I didn't detect one false note. ...I have often been accused of never meeting a book I didn't like. But try THE WHIP
on, nevertheless, despite me. I think you will get as caught up in it as I was. This is classic Americana. --Fred Beauford, NEW WORLD REVIEW, vol. 4, no. 27
You won't know what The Whip
means until you read this fascinating book. It's a piece of the Old West, a part of America's past, told with amazing authenticity. --Thomas Fleming, New York Times best-selling author of Conquerors of the Sky
Karen Kondazian has gathered what exists [about Charley Parkhurst] and allowed her imagination to weave Charley's life into an intriguing pattern. She's done so in a fast-moving tale that quite possibly could be true. The Whip
provides an interesting speculative life history for one of the more enigmatic characters of the Old West. Readers familiar with the setting--or who would like to be--will enjoy this tale. --John Manhold, Historical Novel Society
Kondazian leaves the complexities of Charley Parkhurst’s life of adventure and secrecy to the reader’s imagination. There is an openness about her writing that encourages the reader to expand on these complexities, rather than diminishing them with answers. Kondazian’s deft hand and sophisticated touch invites these complexities to live in the imagination…. While the setting of “The Whip” takes place over a century ago, the questions raised about the choices we make and their consequences on our lives remain pressing and relevant today….Kondazian weaves fiction and fact together seamlessly into a poignant and profound read. -- Story Circle Book Reviews, Review by Dawn Wink.
Charley Parkhurst makes for a compelling main character. The Whip is very well researched (I loved all the historical tid-bits about piano legs, cat-hauling, and the stagecoach business itself), and Kondazian’s novel unfolds cinematically; you can almost feel the sun’s rays and smell the horse sweat. A truly fascinating novel of one woman’s determination and grit in the heart of the Old West. -- Reader’s Favorite, Review by Kayti Nika Raet.
The desire for vengeance knows no gender. The Whip is an old western novel inspired by the story of Charlotte 'Charley' Parkhurst, a woman living as man in the old west. Drawn out of her serene life in Rhode Island by the slaughter of her family, she chose to travel west and track the killer, dressing as a man and living as a man. Karen Kondazian brings forth a narrative flare to the story, making for a fun read that should prove all too difficult to put down, making The Whip a choice and much recommended read. --Midwest Book Review
Take it from someone who's had firsthand experience with great art exploring the human spirit in a Western setting: Karen Kondazian's The Whip
is just that. This is a story that cries out through its adventurous surroundings a call from deep in the human heart, a call for understanding, for love, for identity and it does so through the skill of a magnificent writer. (It also cries out to be a movie. It's that rich, visual, and dramatic.) -- Jim Beaver, star of HBO s Deadwood and author of Life s That Way
[Kondazian] has written a novel about the old West that feels authentic in almost every sweaty detail. -- Kirkus, June 6, 2014 (online)
"The Whip" is a beautifully written story of the Old West that moves between the exploits of Charley and the heartbreak of his/her secret. Why did she choose to live as a man?
It was a hard life as a “whip” as the early drivers were known. They were held in high regard. This is a very entertaining and emotionally moving reading. -- By Alan Caruba of Bookviews (member of National Book Critics Circle)