Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Book Review: The Jump-Off Creek

Last night I finished another book. The Jump-Off Creek by Molly Gloss.

I probably would not have selected this book on my own. I read it because it is a favorite read of my friend, Lorie. She recommended it several years ago and it's taken me this long to get to it. I had to dust it off as it had been sitting on my night stand for years. Literally.

I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It's the story of Lydia Sanderson, a woman on the Oregon frontier in the 1890's. There are very few women on the frontier at this time and those that are there are married. Not Lydia. She was a go-getter. She headed to the frontier for all the possibilities that existed there.

The property she purchased, site unseen, is in poor condition. When she arrives, there are squatters on her land. She sends them packin'. Now that would make me nervous. Kick men out of their shelter and tell them to be on their merry way. Uh, hello. Wouldn't you be nervous that they'd come back? I'm not sure I'd sleep but I'd have my gun fully loaded and ready for firin'.

Upon entering the one room house, she finds much to be in need of repair. The bottom of the stove is rusted out, you can see daylight through the side of the house, there's holes in the roof and just a hard bunk to sleep on.

Lydia brings with her a mule and 2 goats. And not much else. However, she does always have milk, butter and cheese. All rarities on the prairie and eventually it becomes a means of trade for her.

She makes friends with Tim Whiteaker and Blue Odell. Gentleman who live over the hill or down the creek or somewhere that's relatively close. Or relative in those days anyway. There's a scene between Tim and Lydia that I found to be quite odd. Won't give it away if you decide to read the book but let me just say that they approached relationships in a different way back then. I thought it appeared to be more out of necessity than love.

Sounds like the only possibility she found on the frontier was work. Hard work and lots of it. That's exactly what she did and I don't think she was sorry she went on that adventure.

If you like frontier fiction, you'll enjoy this book. I did see similarities between it and The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas which I absolutely love.

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