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Raveled Ends of Sky (A women of the West novel) Hardcover – December 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Nancy Maguire, a spirited young woman determined to escape the stifling society of New England, sets off for California in this near mythic tale of a quest for freedom and independence on the American frontier. After joining a wagon train, Nancy makes two friends: Lottie England, a feisty widow with a mouth that could make even the most hardened frontiersman blush, and Hart Daniels, a handsome man with a spirit as fiercely individualistic as Nancy's. While the two women quickly develop a deep and lasting friendship, Nancy's relationship with Hart becomes romantic, and she begins to realize that her desire for freedom does not have to be forfeited by falling in love. Although Sandifer's dialogue is a bit strained and her descriptions are too flowery, her story is well developed; and her use of diaries and historical facts results in a gritty, realistic drama of early trailblazers crossing the Sierras to settle in California on the eve of its annexation by the U.S. Catherine Sias
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vivid and real. As a small boy of nine or ten, I used to go with
my father when he trailed his small band of sheep from grazing
ground to grazing ground. Ms. Sandifer's book created virtual
reality for me and I was right back on the trail reliving those
days trailing sheep with my dad. I could feel the hard ground
that we slept on, could smell the coffee as it brewed on the open
I'm not one who enjoys long narrative digressions from the main
story, and while she takes us on some descriptive detail and
digression, Ms. Sandifer knows exactly when to pull us back to the story before we lose interest.
You'll love Nancy Mcguire's quiet strength as well as Lottie
England's colorful and audacious strength and spunk. Hart Daniels and Colonel Joseph Chiles are the kind of men we all long
to be--men's men; gentle and tender when necessary, and tough
when the occasion calls for it; but always strong. If you're a Western reader who enjoys authentic Western lore, you will enjoy this book immensely. In my opinion, a real Western classic.