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Charley's Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst

Fern J. Hill (Author)

ISBN: 0-7414-4643-X ©2008
Price: $15.95
Book Size: 5.5'' x 8.5'' , 280 pages
Category/Subject: FICTION / Historical

Charley's Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst is a fictional memoir of a California gold rush era stagecoach driver, who, upon death, was discovered to be a woman.

Charley Parkhurst ran away from an orphanage, worked hard learning horse craft, and, over the ensuing years, earned a hallmark reputation driving a six-up in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, and California during the gold rush era. When death overtook Charley many long-time friends and acquaintances were astounded to learn the tough old stage-driver was a well-endowed woman who had given birth at some point in her life. A member of the all male Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Charley was the first woman to vote in California during the 1868 federal election, fifty-three years before women won the right to vote.

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Customer Reviews

  Great Book! , 07/30/2008
Reviewer: Holly Corcoran
I really enjoyed this book. What an amazing life Charley had keeping her secret that she was a woman posing as a man. What courage she displayed! And to think this is based upon an historical figure gave me great hope of the things we all can achieve. I love stories based upon truth and seeing how others surmount the odds in their life and make it successful and satisfying! I am referring this book to my friends!

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  GREAT BOOK! , 07/31/2008
Reviewer: Kerri Tollinger
I'm an avid horror story fan, but my mother bought this book for me to read. I couldn't put it down! My current profession is a male dominated one, and I CAN NOT imagine Charley's bravery toughing it out in the 1800's! It is a very good read, and I suggest it to anyone who will listen!

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  Captivating story , 08/01/2008
Reviewer: Dianna Sinovic
This is a wonderful tale of daring and determination set in 1800s America, a time when women had much fewer choices in life. Under Fern Hill's skillful hand, Charley Parkhurst lives and breathes in these pages. I cheered her successes and moaned at her setbacks—and became intimately caught up in her saga. From the Boston area to 'Frisco Bay, and various points in between, I rode alongside Charley as she took on the challenges of driving a six-horse stage, disguised as a man so she can do the work she loved—and excelled at. Bravo for a story well told!

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  loved it , 08/05/2008
Reviewer: Robin
could not put it down, read it in a few hours very well written. Fern i loved it.

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  Absolutely Dazzling , 08/11/2008
Reviewer: Ruth Rymer
This book is for every woman who chafes under the restrictive reins of our male-dominated society. Fern Hill's sensitive handling of the life of this courageous woman put me on a time machine back to Charley's time and kept me spellbound from start to finish. A real triumph and highly recommended.

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  , 08/26/2008
Reviewer: Jo Griggs
Those of us who love stories about people who prevail against overwhelming odds are in for a treat when they read Charley's Choice by Fern J. Hill. Fern's meticulous research and knack for telling a tale make the story of Charley Parkhursts lifelong masquerade a great read.

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  Amazing Life Story! , 06/18/2009
Reviewer: Lori Orser
Charley's Choice is not the typical type or genre of book that I pick up and read -- but I'm really glad that I did choose it. Ms. Hill hooked me on the first page, which is actually the end of Charley's story. There was a mystery there, and I needed, not just wanted, but NEEDED, to follow the clues through the rest of the book. The first chapter, after "The End," took me to the beginning of Charley's story, as a child in an early 19th centuru orphanage. A girl, Charley abandoned her dresses for boys clothing, to more easily run, climb trees, and sneak into the stable for time with the horse. Horses were what she loved, and all that she wanted to do with her life revolved around them. After a tragedy, Charley makes her first choices. She runs away from the orphanage, disguises herself and calls herself a boy, and eventually finds a job working with horses in a livery stable. In Hill's deft hands, Charley comes vividly to life in that first paragraph of her story -- a living child. Although quite young, Charley realizes the limited choices for women in her time and world. She decieds to live as a man and be responsible for her own life. The story describes the increasing difficulties of that decision as she matures both physically and emotionally, but through the joys and tragedies of her live, she sticks to her guns and continues to make her own choices right up to the way she dies. In the hands of a lesser writer, this story could have rung false or dropped to a maudlin level at points. Fern Hill obviously came to "know" Charley Parkhurst through her research and as she wrote the book. She loves Charley, but portrays her honestly, warts and all. Charley isn't idolized, though her many quite amazing accomplishments shine through her down-to-earth "auto-biography." Her mistakes, and how she copes -- or sometimes fails to cope -- with personal tragedies, help make Charley a believable person. Not a character, not a heroine, but a flesh and blood person I wish I could have met. Although through Fern Hill's writing, I feel as if I have. Buy this book, read it, and pass it on to anyone and everyone you know who loves a good story. You won't regret it, and your friends will thank you for introducing them to Charley Parkhurst and Fern Hill.

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  An Amazing Book from Beginning to End! , 11/13/2009
Reviewer: Kat Guzzi
You don't have to know anything about horses to love this book. I was hooked after reading page one! It's hard to believe that this is Fern J. Hills first novel and after reading it I'm sure you'll all agree that she has to get started writing her next one. She's a natural born writer and her story telling will have you staying up late turning the pages with anticipation of what will happen next. This is a must read for anyone young or old. What a joy it was to read. I was transformed back in time and found it hard to snap into reality when I set the book down. Thank you for writing a 5 Star book that I will never forget.

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