Publishers Weekly
The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling
September 7, 1998

Women of the Gold Rush: "The New Penelope" and Other Stories

Frances Fuller Victor, edited and with an introduction by Ida Rae Egli, Heyday, $12.95 paper (192p) ISBN 1-890771-03-1

Prefaced by a brief biography, these five compelling stories suggest a range of women's roles during the time of westward expansion. The heroines live by their wits and triumphant will to survive. Mrs. Greyfield, in "The New Penelope," recounts an odyssey that began with a fateful trip west from the Missouri River on a wagon train (with delicious parallels to Penelope's plight); a resourceful miner's wife transplanted from New York ("How Jack Hastings Sold His Mine"); and several women saddled with blackhearted men. The collection offers telling domestic details within a sweeping historic landscape, equally at home in a proper parlor where two friends take lemonade and in a ramshackle mining cabin. Here rugged adventure (journeys by wagon, rail and sea) is found alongside affecting emotional struggles (widows adjusting to single motherhood eeking out a living). Victor originally published The New Penelope and Other Stories (as a volume including a novella, 10 short stories and 40 poems) in 1877; the fictional works included here - two of which, Egli reasons, were based on Victor's column about San Francisco for the Evening Bulletin - are gripping tales full of historical interest. (Oct.)