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The Whip: A Novel Inspired by the Story of Charley Parkhurst

The Whip: A Novel Inspired by the Story of Charley Parkhurst

4.5 41
by Karen Kondazian

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2014 Readers Favorite- Gold Medal Prize -Winner Best Western Fiction
2013 International Book Award- first place -Winner Best Western Fiction,
2013 National Indie Excellence Award -first place-Best Western fiction
2013 Global Ebook Awards first place-Winner Best Historical Fiction
2012 USA Best Book Award- first place- Winner Best Western Fiction


2014 Readers Favorite- Gold Medal Prize -Winner Best Western Fiction
2013 International Book Award- first place -Winner Best Western Fiction,
2013 National Indie Excellence Award -first place-Best Western fiction
2013 Global Ebook Awards first place-Winner Best Historical Fiction
2012 USA Best Book Award- first place- Winner Best Western Fiction
First Place Goodreads Contest: "Best Book to be made into a Film"
"Top 12 Best Western Books"--Goodreads Contest

THE WHIP is inspired by the true story of a woman, Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst (1812-1879) who lived most of her extraordinary life as a man.
As a young woman in Rhode Island, she fell in love with a runaway slave and had his child. The destruction of her family drove her west to California, dressed as a man, to track the killer. Charley became a renowned stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo. She killed a famous outlaw, had a secret love affair, and lived with a housekeeper who, unaware of her true sex, fell in love with her. Charley was the first woman to vote in America (as a man). Her grave lies in Watsonville, California.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times best-selling author - Thomas Fleming
You won't know what The Whip means until you read this fascinating book. It's a piece of the Old West, a part of America's past, told with amazing authenticity.
New World Review - Fred Beauford
One thing I really like about this job is that I get to discover promising new talent far outside of the world of agents, New York publishers, academics, and establishment book reviewers. Karen Kondazian's debut novel, The Whip, is in that category. Her well-written work, based on a true story, displays all the confidence of a seasoned novelist. I didn't detect one false note... I have often been accused of never meeting a book I didn't like. But try The Whip on, nevertheless, despite me. I think you will get as caught up in it as I was. This is classic Americana.
Midwest Book Review
The desire for vengeance knows no gender. The Whip is an old western novel inspired by the story of Charlotte 'Charley' Parkhurst, a woman living as man in the old west. Drawn out of her serene life in Rhode Island by the slaughter of her family, she chose to travel west and track the killer, dressing as a man and living as a man. Karen Kondazian brings forth a narrative flare to the story, making for a fun read that should prove all too difficult to put down, making The Whip a choice and much recommended read.
April 23, 2014 - Foreword Reviews - Julia Ann Charpentier
A skillful blend of fact and fiction...Kondazian's fascinating portrayal of this admirable historical figure delves into the complex character of a tough woman combating old-school tradition and unhealthy stereotypes.
Story Circle Book Review - Dawn Wink
Kondazian weaves fiction and fact together seamlessly into a poignant and profound read.
Historical Novel Society - John Manhold
Karen Kondazian has gathered what exists [about Charley Parkhurst] and allowed her imagination to weave Charley's life into an intriguing pattern. She's done so in a fast-moving tale that quite possibly could be true. The Whip provides an interesting speculative life history for one of the more enigmatic characters of the Old West. Readers familiar with the setting—or who would like to be—will enjoy this tale.
star of HBO s Deadwood and author of Life's That Way - Jim Beaver
Take it from someone who's had firsthand experience with great art exploring the human spirit in a Western setting: Karen Kondazian's The Whip is just that. This is a story that cries out through its adventurous surroundings a call from deep in the human heart, a call for understanding, for love, for identity and it does so through the skill of a magnificent writer. (It also cries out to be a movie. It's that rich, visual, and dramatic.)
Reader's Favorite - Kayti Nika Raet
Charley Parkhurst makes for a compelling main character. The Whip is very well researched (I loved all the historical tid-bits about piano legs, cat-hauling, and the stagecoach business itself), and Kondazian's novel unfolds cinematically; you can almost feel the sun's rays and smell the horse sweat. A truly fascinating novel of one woman's determination and grit in the heart of the Old West.
Book Babe Blog
Awesome read, excellent narrative, perfect blend of fact and fiction, and though Charley faces an incredibly sad amount of misery and misfortune, the book managed to make me laugh at times as well as shake my head in sympathy....numerous things throughout the book made me chuckle and overall, the book has made a huge impact on me. It's also about a very strong woman, probably one of the strongest women I have ever read about. Life kept beating her down and she kept getting back up, minus one eye or minus a man and a baby, but never without her determination.
Kirkus Reviews
In this debut historical novel, a woman disguises herself as a male stagecoach driver in order to track down the man responsible for the murder of her family.Inspired by a true story, Kondazian conjures up the legend of Charlotte "Charley" Pankhurst, a 19th century woman who spent much of her life pretending to be a male. Charlotte, who was raised in an orphanage in Boston, falls in love with a runaway slave and bears his child. But a terrible act of cruelty leaves her mourning her family and planning vengeance on the man responsible. After Charlotte learns that her target is headed west, she decides to follow him. The old West is no place for a lone woman, however, so she disguises herself as a man and finds employment as a "whip," or stagecoach driver. She has a series of adventures as she drives her coach up and down the California territory. She meets an actress named Anna, who later becomes her housekeeper; when Anna falls in love with her, however, Charlotte rebuffs her advances. Charlotte dons her female duds again upon arriving in San Francisco, where she falls for an outlaw named Edmund. However, her plan to take revenge for the death of her family is never far from her mind. The author, an actress, has written a novel about the old West that feels authentic in almost every sweaty detail ("The stagecoach was coming. The whole world was dust and pounding, pounding and dust"). Kondazian's background in the world of make-believe helps her to convincingly render Charlotte's transformation. The novel even offers a pansexual take on romance as both Charlotte and her lover seem to derive extra pleasure from the fact that she can be both a woman and a man.An engaging, authentic depiction of life in Gold Rush-era California.

Product Details

Hansen Publishing Group, LLC
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Karen Kondazian is an award-winning author born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her debut novel The Whip, received five awards in 2013, including the USA News Best Book Award for Historical Fiction and the International Book Award for Best Western. She is also the author of the best-selling book, The Actors Encyclopedia of Casting Directors, with a foreword by Richard Dreyfuss.

Kondazian was a journalist and is an award winning theater actress who began her acting career at the age of eight, as one of the infamous children on Art Linkletter's, Children Say the Darnest Things. She completed her schooling at San Francisco State College, The University of Vienna and The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Onstage, Kondazian has distinguished herself portraying the women of Tennessee Williams, winning the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance in The Rose Tattoo. After seeing her performance, Tennessee Williams and Kondazian became friends and he gave her carte blanche to produce any of his plays in his lifetime. She then starred opposite Ed Harris in Sweet Bird of Youth and also won the Los Angeles Ovation Award playing Maria Callas in The Master Class. She has also appeared as a series regular lead in CBS's Shannon and guest starred in over 50 television shows and films - including, starring opposite James Franco in TNT's James Dean, and playing Kate Holliday in the award-winning anthology series, Showdown at O.K. Corral.

Kondazian is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio, a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Women in Film. She is presently working on her second novel, Looking for Jack Kerouac.

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The Whip: A Novel Inspired by the Story of Charley Parkhurst 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly hesitated before reading Karen Kondazian's "The Whip" because I was not sure I would enjoy a book which was historical fiction about the old west. However, I truly surprised myself and loved every step of Charley Parkhurst's adventure! Ms Kondazian wrote a beautiful and integrating story that captured my heart and I could not put the book down. A true "page turner" and I learned so much about true Americana along the way. Captivating, inspiring, emotional and enjoyable! Congrats Ms Kondazian! You sure know how to tell a story! I recommended your book to so many of my friends and everyone agrees! Looking forward to another novel from you!
Gary4 More than 1 year ago
Five Stars! Unbelievable story!. Captivatting from start to finish. Hope we hear more from this author in the near future. Gary Toronto, Canada
NatashaBoris More than 1 year ago
What a joy to read this book. No repetition, and surprises at every turn. This is the story of the first female stage coach driver, although they don't know she is a female. The reasons for her decisions are heartbreaking and inspiring. I truly enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As someone who absolutely loves historical fiction but has never had an interest in Westerns, I was delighted to find in The Whip a captivating, colorful, and authentic story.  Karen Kondazian captures the spirit of Charley Parkurst, a legendary and extraordinary person about whom I had known very little.  I would never have guessed that this was Karen's first novel, and I sincerely hope that she continues to write in this genre. I'm recommended this to my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought The Whip based on a friend's recommendation. Score one for friendship--this was one of the best novels of the old west I've ever had the pleasure to read. Ms. Kondasian brings rich evocative writing, reminiscent of Larry McMurtry, to her telling of the true life tale of Charlie Parkhurst, who (no spoiler alert here) passed as a man for years to become one of the most celebrated of the famous California stage coach drivers. This amazing woman comes so vividly to life that your only regret is that you can't spend more time with her by the time the story ends. Inspirational. Heartfelt. Rich. And thrilling to boot. I'm paying forward the recommendation. Great, absorbing read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
an enjoyable, quick read. Interesting the perspective the author took, creating a backstory for a mysterious, historical figure for whom not much is really known. It is an interesting exploratory into what can drive a person for survival and a testament to human resiliance in light of adversity
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We read this book at our book club and everyone liked it!! Good story based on a real woman and her story of survival as a orphaned chilld and then in the wilds of northern ca. Highly recommend this book for bookclubs and anyone( man or woman) who wants to read a book that is excellent from the first page to the last page.
RachelintheOC More than 1 year ago
Great book! Kondazian is a gifted storyteller and writes so visually, I found myself casting the movie in my head as I read it!  Her portrayal of Charley is compelling -- I eagerly turned pages wanting to find out her story. The author wrote each character and scene so well, and I even cried at once point (okay, two).  Hollywood would do well to recognize this book and make a movie right quick! If they want help with the casting, I'm available. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Whip is an engaging and thrilling novel. It is narrated brilliantly. The dialogue is clear, concise, and sharp. All the characters sound and speak differently. Yes, they curse because after all that is how historically speaking Cowboys spoke in the Old West. It is a fast action paced character driven revenge Western story. A must read for anyone who is fascinated by the life of the true story of Charlotte "Charley" Parkhurst who was a woman that dressed like a man in order to survive making a decent living as a stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo during the Gold Rush Era. It is evident that The Whip would make a wonderful academy award winning Western film for the narration, mood, and tone of the novel is cinematic in the same vein of the classic Western film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book!!! I just could not put the book down because it was such a good story. Highly recommend.
Wrytoasts More than 1 year ago
Karen Kondazian has a way with words that just about takes your breath away. She's smart, funny and unapologetic. This is one of the best novels I've ever read... and I've read a mountain of them. Heartbreakingly beautiful characters and truly unpredictable twists and turns had me panicked, repeatedly checking how many pages I had left. Warning: This is a story whose ending you will mourn. Have your tissues ready.
Sherbon More than 1 year ago
This book was so well written that I couldn't put it down; however, loved it so much that I didn't want it to end. Karen is such a good writer that I felt like I was the main character, Charley, feeling her pain and pleasure. I enjoyed the book so much, that 2 months later, I have started reading it again!
desertbiblio More than 1 year ago
The title is appropriate because it not only describes the story but also how tightly the reader is held, moved and grabbed. What a great story and one where not a word or phrase is wasted in this well-written story of life in the old west that we have never heard before. More importantly it is a very personal story about how a person can triumph in their own way while keeping a secret that would have made their journey impossible. Couldn't put it down and finished it wanting to know more and especially read more by Karen Kondazian. She has certainly brought her talents as an actress and story-teller to her writing and especially how to "whip" an audience. Don't miss this book if you want to be informed, enlightened, and moved.
YvonneJ More than 1 year ago
What a great read. I love historical novels set during the late 1800's and this one did not disappoint. It has everything a great western needs (horses, gunfights, stagecoaches, bar room brawls, etc.) and so much more. I loved it from beginning to end. If there is an award for best cover art, this book should win.
wwlewisIII More than 1 year ago
The book I discovered quite by accident. Once I received it on my nook, I could hardly put it down. It is a great story, wonderfully crafted, and it catches you on the first page and holds you tight through the entire read. This book should be brought to the silver screen.
mommybooknerd More than 1 year ago
There are stories and books that to come to you by chance and when you turn the very last page you feel invigorated becasue you found such a poignant and moving story, that is what happened with THE WHIP. Karen Kondazian weaves a story of American history where love crosses boundaries and where heartache and love is represented at it truest and rawest form. As a woman, I admired Charlotte "Charley" Packhurst. I was incredibly moved by her struggle and her will to make her own life, at some great costs. Charley kept on trudging forward despite the obstacles she faced. Kondazian really caputured the essense of what it must have been like for Charlotte to be Charley for all those years. Written in a nicely paced and engaging style, you will become so entrenched in the story and become emotionationally invested in Charley and the supporting characters. I have to admit that I am not normally drawn to historical/romance/western, but after reading what THE WHIP was written about, I could not turn it away. I feel ever so grateful to have read THE WHIP and to share this raving review with you. I have to agree with the other reviewers saying they could see this becoming a big screen hit. THE WHIP will not disappoint and I highly recommend it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never posted a review before, but I was so moved by this book, I had to share my experience. First of all I literally could not put it down, reading it in less than 24 hours (on a Sunday), woke up early on Monday morning to finish. The bare bones of Charley's story is fascinating in itself. I thought Ms. Kondazian's interpretation was brilliant. From feeling so sorry for infant Charlotte in the orphanage, to Charley's death, this was an emotional roller coaster ride. Ms. K is an amazing author. I hung on her every word. I hope this is not her last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivatting story... Great book, very easy to read.... Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and well edited.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting bit of American history turned into great story. I wonder how many other women in that era denied the restrictions placed on women back then and lived as a man?
CimBookClub More than 1 year ago
What a fun read!  Karen Kondazian’s novel, “The Whip”, does a wonderful job giving the reader a walk through 1800’s America through the eyes of Charley Parkhurst.  At times it is overwhelmingly sad and other times funny, ironic and suspenseful.  This makes for a book that is hard to put down!   I read this book because it was being reviewed by our book club.  We had a great time discussing strong women the lengths one may go to in order to survive.
MarkB43 More than 1 year ago
Interesting read about the old west. Provocative, a great journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Five Stars! Great story for historical fiction.
emileDF More than 1 year ago
If you like women with 'True Grit' then Charley Parkhurst is your woman or man, if you prefer.  A character one comes to respect, Charley overcomes many of life's adversities by recreating herself in a new role in a man's world.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers' Favorite The Whip by Karen Kondazian is a Western inspired by the true story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, an extraordinary woman who lived most of her life in the west as a man. In The Whip, Charley sets out West seeking revenge after falling in love with a runaway slave, then losing him and their family in a horrible way. Dressed as a man she's determined to track down the killer. Once out West, she becomes a stagecoach driver, “Whips”, and along the way to her revenge she kills a famous outlaw, becomes the first woman to vote, and has her housekeeper, unaware that she's a woman, fall in love with her. An extraordinary tale worthy of a movie, The Whip by Karen Kondazian is steeped in historical drama, action, and wonder. Charley Parkhurst makes for a compelling main character, and especially since The Whip is inspired by a true story, it makes for a very compelling read. It was also very well researched (I loved all the historical tid-bits about piano legs, cat-hauling, and the stagecoach business itself), and Kondazian's novel unfolds cinematically; you can almost feel the sun's rays and smell the horse sweat. While the West has always provided a deep well of creative content, it is always the lesser known, but no less interesting stories that provide the most satisfaction. The Whip by Karen Kondazian is a truly fascinating novel of one woman's determination and grit in the heart of the Old West.