Holm (Our Only May Amelia) returns to the frontier (by way of Philadelphia) in this fast-paced second novel about a blossoming society lady who must surrender etiquette in order to survive. The enormously likable and irrepressible 16-year-old narrator Jane recounts her childhood crush on her father's apprentice William, which caused her, at age 11, to trade her tomboyish spitting and cherry pie-eating for proper deportment and embroidery lessons at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy. As Jane makes her way to the Oregon territory to marry William, Holm humorously juxtaposes Miss Hepplewhite's lessons with the reality of life at sea and on the frontier in 1854. Such advice as travelers must "dress plainly and pack lightly" does not seem to apply: Jane reflects, "She had been rather remiss in mentioning any hints on killing fleas, avoiding rats, bathing with seawater, or being seasick." The plot thickens when she meets Jehu, an officer on the ship and discovers that William has departed for a project with the governor. Jane (named Boston Jane by the local Chinook Indians) must share a cabin with unkempt, tobacco-chewing men and make herself useful by cooking, washing and mending rather than supervising servants or pouring tea. The developing love triangle (with Jehu and William) takes a back seat to Holm's credible portrait of Jane's budding friendships with the Chinook and pioneers, and the series of challenges that transform her into the outspoken, self-reliant young woman readers will long remember. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This is the third in a 19th century historical novel series about a young pioneer nicknamed "Boston Jane." Here 17-year-old Jane Peck must face two old nemeses that threaten her claim to happiness on the Northwestern Pacific Coast. Like a memelose (local Chinook Indian word for ghost) from Jane's East Coast past, Philadelphia Sally Biddle comes to live in the oyster town where Jane has finally settled in. Jane fought hard to support herself through an oyster business and as a concierge in the town's hotel. She also developed a circle of friends, including a loving boyfriend, Jehu Scudder. She is even about to claim a log cabin on property of her very own! But two-faced Sally spitefully undermines Jane's status. William Baldt, Jane's' former fiancé who jilted her to marry someone else, returns to the oyster town to take over by putting Chinook "savages" and women like Jane in their places. Jane's intelligence and Jehu's cleverness are a winning response to these threats. All is told in compelling historical detail in an 1850s Washington Territory setting. Acknowledgments, author's note, and a resource list indicate the research that went into the writing. The novel makes the reader want to read the other books in this series. The book is appropriate for a strong middle reader, while young adults especially should find the adventures of this independent young woman entertaining and educational. 2004, HarperCollinsPublishers, and Ages 10 up.
Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D.
Jane Peck, Holm's independent heroine, returns in this third installment of the Boston Jane series. As one of Shoalwater Bay's established settlers, she watches the town's growth and notices the issues that accompany it: prejudice, crime, and tensions resulting from overcrowding. The simple bay life that Jane knows is rapidly disappearing, and elements of the young ladies' academy from the first book surface. Central to the story is the arrival of Jane's nemesis from Philadelphia, Sally Biddle, whose primary goal is to agitate Jane and destroy her relationship with Jehu. The introduction of "civilized" society to Shoalwater Bay changes the settlers' relationship with their Chinook neighbors and also challenges the freedom that women have enjoyed in the remote setting. The story is fast paced and lively, and Holm successfully campaigns for diversity and feminism without making her plot seem like a thinly disguised message. The weak points in this book are the pulp-romance style of Jane's unsure relationship with Jehu, and the simplistic revenge fantasy played out with Sally. Jane is a complex protagonist, and her fans deserve more substance than the book's brooding leading man and trite troublemaker provide. Still Holm sets the story up for another sequel, and readers will be glad to know that she has more plans for her likeable heroine. VOYA Codes: 3Q 5P M J (Readable without serious defects; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, HarperCollins, 240p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Fans of this series, set in Shoalwater Bay in Washington Territory in the 1850s, will find Jane, now 17, to be just as strong and admirable a character as ever. In this third installment, the frontier settlement has grown into a town and Jane works as a concierge in the hotel. Her old rival, Sally Biddle, disembarks ship and immediately takes every opportunity to embarrass and alienate Jane just as she had done back in Philadelphia. William Baldt, the man who asked Jane to marry him in the first book, is back and threatens to take her land. She surprises some community members when she speaks up for a wrongly accused Chinook who is charged with stealing whiskey, and she bravely rescues a child of Chinook and white heritage who is unfairly placed with an abusive foster parent. A touch of romance between Jane and Jehu, the sailor she met on her journey west, helps move the story to a satisfying conclusion. This glimpse into Northwestern pioneer life is based on primary and secondary sources, including Holm's own family history. Recommend this title to readers who enjoyed L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" series (HarperCollins).-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In the third installment of her trilogy about Boston Jane, Holm continues the drama of white settlers in the Washington Territory, some of whom embrace the Chinook way of life and many of whom disdain their so-called "savage" ways. This familiar conflict rears its ugly head when a child of a Chinook Indian mother and a white father who has died, is taken away from the mother to be raised by a white family. Additional aspects of settlement life include the coming of a dry-goods store, first elections, and fraudulent land schemes. Jane, who had uprooted herself from Philadelphia and found friendship and promise in this rough new community, now faces a new threat, not the physical danger of murderers and the frontier, but the supercilious and disdainful ways of Sally Biddle, her old Philadelphia nemesis. She is less successful in overcoming the proper Ms. Biddle and, in fact, needs the familiar plot device of a letter left lying about to achieve victory. That victory is a proposal of marriage from the handsome Jehu. While this is not as compelling as the previous two titles, Jane's fans will delight in the turn of events and celebrate with her. (Fiction. 10-14)
ALA Booklist (starred review)
“A first-rate story not to be missed.”
“The fascinating details and humor herein are sure to hit home with fans of historical fiction.”
Read an Excerpt
Papa always said you make your own luck.
But after being seasick for five months, two weeks, and six days, I felt certain that luck had nothing to do with anything aboard the Lady Luck, a poorly named vessel if ever there was one. I had just spent the morning of my sixteenth birthday puking into a bucket, and I had little hope that the day would improve.
I had no doubt that I was the unluckiest young lady in the world.
It wasn’t always this way.
Once I was the luckiest girl in the world.
When I was eleven years old, in 1849, the sea seemed to me a place of great wonder. I would lie on my four-poster bed in my room overlooking the street and pretend I was on one of the sleek ships that sailed along the waterfront, returning from exotic, faraway places like China and the Sandwich Islands and Liverpool. When the light shone through the window a certain watery way, it was easy to imagine that I was bobbing gently on the waves of the ocean, the air around me warm and sweet and tinged with salt.
We lived on Walnut Street, in a brick house with green shutters, just steps from the State House. Heavy silk drapes hung in the windows, and there was new gas lighting in every room. When the lights were on, it glowed like fairyland. I believed it to be the loveliest house in all of Philadelphia, if only because we lived there.
And my father was the most wonderful father in Philadelphia—or perhaps the whole world.
Each morning Papa would holler, “Where is my favorite daughter?”
I would leap out of bed and rush to the top of the stairs, my feet bare, my hair a frightful mess.
“She is right here!” I would shout. “And she is your only daughter!”
“You’re not my Janey,” he would roar, his white beard shaking, his belly rolling with laughter. “My Janey’s not a slugabed! My Janey’s hair is never tangled!”
My mother had died giving birth to me, so it had only ever been Papa and me. Papa always said that one wild, redheaded daughter was enough for any sane man.
As for my sweet papa, how can I describe the wisest of men? Imagine all that is good and dear and generous, and that was my papa.
Papa was a surgeon, the finest in all of Philadelphia. He took me on rounds with him to visit his patients. I was always proud to hold the needle and thread while he stitched up a man who had been beaten in a bar brawl. Or I would sit on a man’s belly while Papa set a broken leg. Papa said a man behaved better and didn’t scream so much when a little girl was sitting on his belly.
I was the luckiest girl.