Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kicker's Journey by Lois Cloarec Hart

Publisher:             P. D. Publishing

Lois C. Hart doesn’t produce books as quickly as some authors, but when they come out, you can depend on a good story.  Kicker’s Journey continues in that tradition.

Kicker Stuart has always known she’s different.  Unlike her sisters and other girls in her village, she’s always preferred wearing her brother’s pants and working next to her father in his blacksmith shop.  Fourteen year old Kicker believes she has found the ideal position and is set for life when she is hired to work at the stables of the Grindleshire Academy for Young Ladies.  She knows she’s not the social equal of the young women who attend school there, but that has never bothered Kicker.  She’s much more at home with the servants and the horses anyway.  Six years later though she meets the new teacher Madelyn Bristow and everything changes.  What starts out as a friendship blossoms into romance, which will not be tolerated in England in the 1890s, so the women decide to cross the Atlantic Ocean and attempt a new life in the far reaches of Canada.  Madelyn and Kicker discover that, while Canada gives them more freedom than England would, there are still obstacles to overcome.  The land itself is harsh and demanding and, though most of the people are very accepting, there are still those who cling to social status and pride.  As they attempt to establish themselves in the community of Galbraith Crossing, they find themselves surrounded by friends and enemies.  Maddie and Kicker will find not only their endurance tested, but their love also.

Kicker’s Journey is almost epic in its proportions.  Hart is a master storyteller who knows how to develop characters and settings equally well.  As the book moves from boarding school to London to the trip across the ocean, the reader feels the atmosphere of each and is able to see the personalities of the characters unfold as they grow.  The concept of class differences in England is clearly explained and then carried over to Canada, where the trip across the continent captures not only the beauty of the land, but the harshness it could inflict on settlers.  When the women stop to visit an old friend of Madelyn’s, Hart has a chance to show the suffering that early settlers must have endured.  The story in Galbraith Crossing is reminiscent of stories from the American old West.  There is a frontier town dominated by two powerful ranching families, one noble, the other trouble, and plenty of colorful characters.  Hart also captures the feeling of how the very geography of the place could be its biggest challenge through drought, heat and blinding snow storms.  This is a story of women who are challenged by everything around them, including class and gender expectations.

There is a rich feel to the story in this book.  It will keep the reader turning pages as each new step in Kicker and Madelyn’s journey provides new obstacles to the women’s relationship.  This is excellent reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment