Cover image for Book Club kit : The whip
Book Club kit : The whip
Publication Information:
East Brunswick, NJ : Hansen Pub. Group, c2012.
Physical Description:
10 bks. (294 p.) ; 21 cm. + 1 discussion guide


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The Whip is inspired by the true story of a woman, Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst (1812-1879) who lived most of her extraordinary life as a man. As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love and had a child. Her husband was lynched and her baby killed. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed as a man, to track down the murder. Charley became a renowned stagecoach driver. She killed a famous outlaw, had a secret love affair, and lived with a housekeeper who, unaware of her true sex, fell in love with her.Charley was the first woman to vote in America (as a man). Her grave lies in Watsonville, California.

Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

In this debut historical novel, a woman disguises herself as a male stagecoach driver in order to track down the man responsible for the murder of her family.Inspired by a true story, Kondazian conjures up the legend of Charlotte Charley Pankhurst, a 19th century woman who spent much of her life pretending to be a male.Charlotte, who was raised in an orphanage in Boston, falls in love with a runaway slave and bears his child.But a terrible act of cruelty leaves her mourning herfamily and planning vengeance on the man responsible.After Charlotte learns that her target is headed west, she decides to follow him.The old West is no place for a lone woman, however, so she disguises herself as a man and finds employment as a whip, or stagecoach driver.She has a series of adventures as she drives her coach up and down the California territory.She meets an actress named Anna, who later becomes her housekeeper; when Anna falls in love with her, however, Charlotte rebuffs her advances. Charlotte dons her female duds again upon arriving in San Francisco, where she falls for an outlaw named Edmund.However, her plan to take revenge for the death of her family is never far from her mind.The author, an actress, has written a novel about the old West that feels authentic in almost every sweaty detail (The stagecoach was coming. The whole world was dust and pounding, pounding and dust).Kondazians background in the world of make-believe helps her to convincingly render Charlottes transformation. The novel even offers a pansexual take on romance as both Charlotte and her lover seem to derive extra pleasure from the fact that she can be both a woman and a man.An engaging, authentic depiction of life in Gold Rushera California. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

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, formerly with Harris Cty. P.L., Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.