Book Showcase: PROSPECTS OF A WOMAN by Wendy Voorsanger

 



PROSPECTS OF A WOMAN by Wendy Voorsanger

Prospects of a Woman by Wendy Voorsanger
ISBN: 9781631527814 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631527821 (ebook)
ASIN: B083W7MJTW   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: October 20, 2020

The story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy

Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. She soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity. 


She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio Don. Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness.


Prospects of a Woman is a fresh, authentic retelling of the West that explores women’s contributions in California and shatters the stereotypes of the typical hard-boiled novel of the West that has captured the American imagination for over a century.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  BookDepository  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook



Praise for the Book

Prospects of a Woman is a fascinating, complex, dark, and beautiful novel of women and sexuality on the frontier of the California gold strike days.” 

— Douglas Glover, two-time Governor General’s award-winning author of Elle

“I loved this surprisingly feminist story of Gold Rush-era California! Elizabeth Parker is a heroine to fall in love with–plucky, sensuous, courageous and clear-eyed. It is a rare and unusual pleasure to—finally—have a narrative of the Gold Rush told from a woman’s point of view.”

—Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln

Prospects of a Woman is thoughtful and thrilling. The landscape of California – the rough-scrabble mining towns, the wildness of the river and woods — sings on every page.”

—Alex Myers, author of the novels Revolutionary and Divide

Prospects of a Woman is a riveting read about a woman who comes to California during the Gold Rush determined to escape societal constraints, find love and strike it rich. As a woman in a man’s world, she faces innumerable challenges but manages to rise above them. This is a bold, rollicking and satisfying tale, one that is hard to put down.”

—Frances Dinkelspiel, award-winning journalist and author of the best-selling books, Tangled Vines and Towers of Gold



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PART 1

Upon hearing a circus had come to town, an excited farmer set out in his wagon. Along the way he met up with the circus parade, led by an elephant, which so terrified his horses that they bolted and pitched the wagon over on its side, scattering his vegetables and eggs across the roadway. “I don’t give a hang,” exulted the jubilant farmer as he picked himself up. “I have seen the elephant.”

— NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN FOLKTALE


1

“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

— RALPH WALDO EMERSON, “SELF-RELIANCE”

Elisabeth counted the stitches holding together their dingy canvas tent. Twice. She got 946 both times. Cooped up in the midday heat, she seethed at Nate for leaving her alone. They’d lost too much time already. Refusing to wait another goddamn minute on his frittering and scheming, she untied the tent flaps and crawled out, stretching her arms long overhead. A soft air of relief touched her cheeks. Aching with hunger, she stumbled downriver, in the direction of Culoma Town. She hadn’t eaten since a bite of beans for breakfast the day before.
Nate had left early that morning, again. Gone digging for gold in the river, refusing to let her join. Telling her to stay put. Warning about unsavory men roaming around, men with a mind to take what they will. Elisabeth was done waiting on him to bring her something decent to eat. She grabbed her satchel and headed for the river trail, thinking on how she’d get food in her belly with no money left.
She wasn’t thinking about the roaming men but about the blisters on her feet still burning something awful from that long journey getting to the river. Elisabeth walked all afternoon alongside the American River roiling loud, cutting through the valley, tempting her. Tempting Nate. Her eyes burned with the honest light shining lush and vibrant through the narrow valley. The grass glowed golden along the river trail, and the rich green pines marched up the steep sides of the canyon, swaying alive and standing taller and fuller than the scraggly pitch pines at home in Concord. Warm air whooshed through the branches, spreading a sweet smell around.
Arriving in Culoma Town, Elisabeth picked her way through a mess of empty tents strewn haphazard. Plopping down on a log in the center of town, she unlaced her boots to let her stockinged feet breathe and witnessed new beginnings. Industrious fellas buzzed around, hammering up buildings with fresh-hewn boards and siding and plank floors and shingle roofs. Jabbering and rushing. Heaving pails and shovels and pans and timber. Haggling for food and supplies. No women milled about, and she wondered if they were all hiding away too.
Some of the fellas in town noticed her sitting alone on the log. One man dropped his hammer and walked over, stammering and stuttering as if he hadn’t seen a woman in years. She smiled polite, introducing herself as Mrs. Nathaniel Parker. More men came. And more. Until over a dozen stood around gawking at the only woman in Culoma Town. She pulled at her dress collar. Shifted her bottom on the log. Cleared her throat. When a few of the men sat down in the crisped-up grass like they had all the time to waste, she wondered why but didn’t dare ask. A fella with a long curly beard dripping down his chin offered her a cup of cool river water. She took it, gulping. Wiping her cheek with the back of her hand, she reddened with shame. When one man tossed two bits into her empty cup she looked at him coolly, thinking him daft. When another coin clinked into the cup, then another, she didn’t give them back. Didn’t look at the coins either. She simply stared up at the clear sky, fanning herself with her shabby straw hat, acting like she couldn’t care less if those foolish men wanted to waste good money just to sit near a woman looking not exactly pretty.
“I’m not out here to beg,” she said. “Of course not,” said the long-beard fella. She shuffled her unlaced boots, tamping down the dry grass. “I’m simply out getting some air,” she said. “We all see that,” he said. An older man, wrinkled up like a prune, scooted up to her left knee. She caught him looking her up and down, leering, and she wanted to slap him for the lack of manners but held back. Letting men stare for money was unseemly, no matter the circumstances, but she knew each clink of a coin meant she and Nate would eat tonight. Oh, he’d be furious, of course. He’d probably even accuse her of flirting. Maybe she was. Flirting. Encouraging. She didn’t care. She needed a proper supper and a hot bath. Besides, the men seemed harmless.
She considered how many coins those fools had given her, but was too afraid to count for fear they’d wise up to this absurd payment-for-gawking scheme and demand all those coins back. The men stared at her wide-eyed while a pecker pounded on a nearby trunk, knocking and knocking for grubs, matching the thud in her head.
“Any of you know a Henry Goodwin?” Elisabeth asked. “That your husband?” “My father. He settled a claim up the North Fork,” she said. It’d been nearly a month since he’d run off with that Indian girl, and she still stung sore and angry at his leaving. She convinced herself he’d change his mind. Convinced
he’d return to the claim eventually.
“Sing us a song?” A prune-face fella asked. “Not hardly,” she said. “Can’t? Or won’t?” Not exactly delicate, Elisabeth lacked the finer qualities admired in most ladies. Her singing sounded more feeble frog than melodious finch, and she had no patience for sitting still for parlor conversations, finding the feminine topics of curtain colors and canning peaches dreadfully dull. Nate said she walked too heavy, but she knew he’d appreciated her strong back when they’d taken turns pushing their cart loaded down with his case of books through the foothills and into the river basin.

Excerpt from Prospects of a Woman by Wendy Voorsanger.  
Copyright © 2020 by Wendy Voorsanger. 
Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.




Meet The Author

Wendy Voorsanger

Born and raised on the American River in Sacramento, Wendy Voorsanger has long held an intense interest in the historical women of California. She started her career in Silicon Valley, writing about technology trends and innovations for newspapers, magazines, and Fortune 100 companies. 


She currently manages SheIsCalifornia.net, a blog dedicated to chronicling the accomplishments of California women through history. Her debut historical novel, Prospects of a Woman will be published in October 2020 (She Writes Press); an excerpt entitled “Shifting in California” won 1st place in the California Writers Club short story contest and is published in the Fault Zone: Shift: An Anthology of Stories


She earned a B.A. in Journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a member of the Castro Writers’ Cooperative, the Lit Camp Advisory Board, and the San Mateo Public Library Literary Society. 


In addition to being an author, Wendy has worked as a lifeguard, ski instructor, and radio disc jockey. Wendy lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. 


Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and blog.


This showcase, excerpt, and blog tour brought to you by PR by the Book

2016 Book 423: SIZE MATTERS by Cathryn Novak



Size Matters by Cathryn Novak
ISBN: 9781631521034 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631521041 (ebook)
ASIN: B01MAW0F3F (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 22, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


John Frederick is a man of considerable substance, in every sense of the word. Rich, intelligent, reclusive, and very large, John Frederick lives to eat. His everyday needs are tended to by Mrs. Floyd, his house manager, and by a never-ending parade of personal chefs. 

Enter Lexie Alexander, the latest applicant for that once-again vacant position. A young woman of magical sensibilities, fresh out of culinary school and still recovering from a recent personal tragedy, Lexie lives to cook. As time passes, a love of food, musical comedy, and tea begins to weave a connection between John Frederick and his new chef but then a major medical crisis completely turns life at Frederick House upside down, threatening the bond John Frederick and Lexie have forged. 

Size Matters is the story of how people interact with each other and with the world, and what happens when the structure of a person’s life, their self-image, and all their familiar coping mechanisms are shattered.



Lexie Alexander has just finished culinary school and is still mourning the loss of her mother. Lexie knows she’s not ready for the hustle-and-bustle of a gourmet kitchen and is looking forward to working as a personal chef. John Frederick is an obviously wealthy man that is extremely obese, addicted to food, and beyond reclusive. He doesn’t understand why it is so difficult to hire and keep a personal chef. So begins the food-based relationship between two lost souls trying to connect, one by lovingly preparing food and the other by eating food in Cathryn Novak’s debut, Size Matters.

I found Size Matters to be a quick and easy read that goes beyond cooking and eating food. Both Lexie and John are searching for something and think they’ve found it in food, Lexie by cooking it and John by eating it. John becomes less reclusive and actually begins to interact face-to-face with Lexie, and they find that have much more in common than just food, such as love for musical theater and a quirky sense of humor. Just when it seems like their relationship is verging on something else, tragedy strikes (no, no one dies). I could tell you what happens next, but if I did you’d have no reason to read the book. What I can say is that if you enjoy light-hearted and quick reads, stories with interesting characters, or simply stories that provide a touch of romance along with some angst and drama then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Size Matters to read.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





December 6, 2016 – Size Matters by Cathryn Novak

Course Title: Food & Relationships Studies

Department: Culinary Fiction

Description: Lexie Alexander is the personal chef to John Frederick. He’s rich, intelligent, reclusive, very large, and lives to eat. But when a major medical crisis turns the household upside down it threatens the special bonds they’ve formed with each other.




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2016 Book 373: AN ADDRESS IN AMSTERDAM by Mary Dingee Fillmore

An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore 
ISBN: 9781631521331 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631521348 (ebook)
ASIN: B01LYJWNH6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 4, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press

Rachel Klein hopes she can ignore the Nazis when they roll into Amsterdam in May 1940. She’s falling in love, and her city has been the safest place in the world for Jewish people since the Spanish Inquisition. But when Rachel’s Gentile boyfriend is forced to disappear rather than face arrest, she realizes that everything is changing, and so must she so, although she is often tired and scared, she delivers papers for the underground under the Nazis noses. But after eighteen months of ever increasing danger, she pushes her parents to go into hiding with her. The dank basement where they take refuge seems like the last place where Rachel would meet a new man but she does. An Address in Amsterdam shows that, even in the most hopeless situation, an ordinary young woman can make the choice to act with courage and even love.





Spring 1940 and Rachel Klein’s thoughts are on the Nazi occupation and the plight of the Jews in the Netherlands, her family in Germany, and love. Rachel sees how Amsterdam is quickly changing and is willing to do whatever she can to protect as many people as possible in An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore.

For eighteen years, Rachel has been an ideal and dutiful daughter, never causing her parents any worry. Now that Rachel is growing older, she’s forming her own opinions and is very concerned about what she sees happening to her Jewish friends and neighbors. She’s also very worried about what might happen to her own family in Amsterdam. Rachel’s mother Rose wanted the family to leave and go to London and stay with an elderly aunt, but Rachel’s father, Jacob a dedicated physician, feels that the Dutch will never allow the Nazis’ to more than a physical presence. As Rachel sees more and more hatred aimed at the Jewish population, and her lover Michiel is forced to leave or face arrest or worse, she joins the underground movement as a courier delivering messages, newspapers, and even forged documents. Rachel learns that not all of the Dutch are willing to blindly follow the Nazis and put their lives not to mention the lives of their loved ones on the line by helping to hide and protect Jewish families and other members of the underground movement. When things begin to get really bad in Amsterdam, Rachel talks her parents into hiding, but will it be enough to protect them from the Nazis?

I found An Address in Amsterdam to be an engrossing read. The beginning of the story read a bit slow, but after the first 40-50 pages, the story picked up steam and I kept turning page after page just to see what would happen next. Ms. Fillmore provides a dramatic story of acts of heroism, courage, and love in the face of adversity. Rachel comes across as a typical teen at times filled with teen angst and drama, and then she is seen as the unbelievably courageous and heroic woman willing to do what she can in the face of fear and unknown horrors. This is not just the story of one girl and the underground movement, but rather the story of one girl, one family, one love, and the Dutch gentiles working to help and protect Dutch Jews in a time of unspeakable acts of bigotry, hatred, and horrors. It was impossible to read An Address in Amsterdam and not be touched by the ugliness directed towards the Jewish population. However, Ms. Fillmore has taken a story about a group of people that we know doesn’t end well at all and imbued it with a sense of hope that things will get better and that love will help these people make it through. Do things end well for Rachel and her family? You’ll have to read the story to find out. If you enjoy reading historical fiction then I recommend you grab a copy of An Address in Amsterdam to read. 

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book Spotlight: APPETITE by Sheila Grinell




Appetite by Sheila Grinell 
ISBN: 9781631520228 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631520235 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DU18W6E (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 17, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this beggar Jenn has brought home who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life. 

In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work one that Maggie could help him meet if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?




Meet the author:



Sheila Grinell was born in Manhattan (in a taxi). A wife and mother, she has worked as a business executive, designed science museums, and is a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Phoenix with her husband. Appetite is her debut novel.


Connect with the author:     Website      |     Twitter 



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2016 Book 109: GLASS SHATTERS by Michelle Meyers

Glass Shatters by Michelle Meyers
ISBN: 9781631520181 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631520198 (ebook)
ASIN: B01BZYZWX4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 12, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


A man wakes up in a living room he doesn’t recognize, unable to remember anything about himself. All he has are the few remnants of his identity scattered throughout the house clues to his past. He soon learns that he is Charles Lang, a brilliant scientist whose wife, Julie, and daughter, Jess, mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Soon, he begins to recover memories—memories that may or may not be his own and as he does, he realizes that only by uncovering the details of his former life will he have any hope of being reunited with Julie and Jess. A haunting tale of love and longing, fate and free will, and the easily blurred lines between fiction and reality, Glass Shatters explores the risks of trying to reinvent oneself, and the dangers of pushing science to its limits. 




Charles Lang is, by all accounts, a famous and gifted scientist. Sadly, he has no memory of who he is, what he’s been doing for the past few months or years, or even where he’s been. The only thing he does seem to remember is that his wife and daughter have disappeared in Glass Shatters by Michelle Meyers.

Charles is, or rather was, a renowned scientist in the fields of biotechnology and bioengineering. As his story is gradually revealed, we learn that he had disappeared for six months. His neighbors, Iris and her daughter Ava, have missed him and are glad for his return. Charles realizes that he has only vague memories of these two, as well as vague memories of his life before his disappearance. As he begins to reacquaint himself with his past, he begins to have memories of his wife Julie and his daughter Jess. But these memories seem almost false as if he’s remembering on behalf of someone else. As he tries to rationalize his memories with what he’s being told, he also has a mysterious roommate; an older gentleman that he initially presumes is his father. Memories gradually return and he realizes his parents died when he was just eighteen-years-old, so this person can’t be his father, but who is he? The more Charles uncovers, the more he feels that things are off. The more questions he answers, the more questions arise. Where are Julie and Jessica? Whose memories is he remembering? Who exactly is he?

Glass Shatters was a relatively fast-paced read, but one that kept me off-balanced from beginning to end. It is highly probable that Ms. Meyers has done this intentionally in an effort to keep the reader as off-balanced as the main character. Charles’s story is revealed in alternating glimpses of the past and the present. One minute we’re dealing with the thirty-four-year-old Charles and the next he’s eight, thirty-one, twenty-three, eighteen, four, etc. It isn’t until the last few chapters that Ms. Meyer’s reveals all and it is quite the shocker (no, I’m not going to tell you what happens . . . read the book!). Glass Shatters is part mystery, part psychological thriller, and part science-fiction. Am I glad I read it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Well, I’m still trying to decide simply because this was a vastly different read for me (okay, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either). This confusion isn’t because Glass Shatters is such a mash-up of genres or even that it was told in alternating past and present; it’s more because of the strange ending. Yes, it makes sense when you read it and provides closure, but it is still a little strange and came at me from left field. In the end, I can say that if you’re looking for a quick read that offers something vastly different from most mystery-thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Glass Shatters to read. Although I’m still up in the air about liking this book, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Meyers in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley and a print galley via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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