By: JF Collen
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: December 2021
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 24, 2022
J.F. Collen serves up yet another fascinating and delightful body of work in her third book, Pioneer Passage, of her Journey of Cornelia Rose Series.
It is June 1857, and the location is Plum Creek, Nebraska. Cornelia Rose Entwhistle (‘Nellie’) and her family have arrived at the banks of the North Platte River in Nebraska Territory on the Overland Trail. Gone are the days of civilized suburban dwelling. The memories of Sing Sing, New York will always have a place in her heart and soul, but the prospect of new adventures and beginnings is what wills one foot in front of the other for Nellie each day. The scenery is like none other she could have ever imagined. “...this scenery not only captures my breath, but it squeezes my heart full of elation! She thought. Nature presents to my view hill, valley, and mountains in every direction, changing my expectations of splendid landscape entirely from the countryside I loved in the Hudson Valley of New York. Here, I witness a more beautiful sight than I ever have beheld..." Barely into their journey in Nebraska the trail ahead and blue skies abound, Nellie has the fleeting notion of how devastating a sudden outburst of storm could change her adoration of such majesty. Little did she realize; her thoughts would prove more than thoughts in the not-too-distant future.
Nellie, in many respects, was a woman far beyond her time. She would often challenge her beloved husband, Obadiah. However, he was often quick to remind her of her place. Nellie’s job was to obey, tend to their two beautiful daughters, Elizabeth and Emma and make sure her husband’s meals were ready in a timely fashion each morning before breaking camp and every night once setting camp. While the journey may have started with ample supplies and sturdy transportation, that would soon change. The prospect of crossing into the unknown of Indian country, the bite of a poisonous snake, days without water, and perilous mountains to traverse, were waiting for the travelers, but nothing would sway the Entwhistle family’s end goal. They were heading to their new life in the Great Salt Lake City, and nothing would assuage the prospect of this becoming their reality.
I have had the pleasure of reading the first two installments in this fabulous Journey of Cornelia Rose series: Flirtation on the Hudson and Walk Away West. I confess I am a bit biased when it comes to this genre given my inherent love of history, but this is only part of the allure. What makes Ms. Collen’s books such coveted reads are her innate ability to master the art of marrying fiction with fact and the sensational life she breathes into her fictional characters; making them a part of the history. The color Ms. Collen applies in assigning life to each character is exceptional. The dialogue is believable and pays homage to the historical period: “We must listen to the menfolk… Balderdash… Verily the vast multitudes of emigrants remain ignorant as to the navigability of the trail…” Precise focus in setting up a scene that transports her audience back to the landscape and allure of the vast and open land in the 1800’s is one of Ms. Collen’s superb gifts: “…The majesty of the beautiful timbered islands dotting the Platte sings the praise of the Lord’s handiwork. So do the orioles warbling in the cottonwood. I must allow this gift of the Lord to wash over me and refresh my soul…” It is also quite refreshing to read the words of a writer who is unafraid to consistently address the notion of faith in a time when people genuinely believed this is what would guide and protect them through any mishap they would encounter. I applaud this author for writing another ‘must read’ in this series.
Quill Says: Pioneer Passage pays wonderful homage to the early settlers of this beautiful Nation.
For more information on Pioneer Passage (Journey of Cornelia Rose, Book 3), please visit the author's website at: jfcollen.com