Shirley Kennedy has written a very engaging novel in “Wagon Train Cinderella”. The story is set in 1851 and beyond on the Overland Trail to California. It involves a wagon train trying to get to California before the big snows start to fall. It is full of the dangers, limitations, deprivations and sorrow that accompany these folks on their way to a new life.
The heroine is Callie Whitaker, a foundling who was taken in by the Whitaker family when she was a baby, who is really nothing more than a slave to the family. Luke McGraw is accompanying his sister and her brood to Oregon. It was a dream of Florida Sawyer’s husband that his family goes to Oregon and so Luke is helping his sister reach that dream. The other characters in the book are very interesting studies. The story shows that there are so many personalities living in these conditions and each person is changed in different ways. Some come into themselves and show strength and fortitude that was not evident before and some become bitter and resentful because of the hardships of the trail.
For the most part I really enjoyed reading this book. I am a lover of all historical fiction, and very much enjoy novels portraying the early days of our country. My fascination with this westward migration does not transfer to thinking that I would have enjoyed such a journey. (I would have stayed in St. Louis.) However, I truly enjoy reading about what might have been. I was very involved in this book until the last few chapters. I felt that the book was being rushed to a finish. Without giving anything away about the story, I felt that one of the main characters was just dropped suddenly, although I felt that it wasn’t really the end. That’s what kept me reading. I think this is a good novel revealing a lot about the westward trek to California and Oregon during the middle 1800’s.
I was sent a free Kindle copy of this book by NetGalley.com in return for my honest review of the book.