Book Review: Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow
Origin: Browsing goodreads
Genre: Historical fiction, romance
“We always hate the schoolroom where we learn hard lessons. But then we love it, because that’s the school that taught us all we know, and gave us all the strength we have.”
Summary: Garnet Cameron just graduated from an all-girls high school in the mid-1800’s. She’s from a swanky NYC neighborhood, living a privileged life in a comfortable home under loving parents. She lives up to the expectations of a man’s society, by being the “perfect” woman with impeccable manners and respectable morals. The only thing that separates her from the other girls she’s surrounded by is her unrelenting curiosity about what else is out there in this world, and her severe lack of interest in living her life as a homemaker. The proposals from the city men she’s used to don’t light a fire inside of her, and she denies the hand of a man from one of the richest and well-respected families in New York because he’s utterly boring.
Amidst the wonderment of where she really belongs, Garnet meets Oliver Hale, a frontier trader from California, who traveled to New York to purchase goods from an estate that her banker father controls. Following their initial meeting, Oliver finds reasons to visit Garnet at her home, and she becomes absolutely captivated by Oliver’s tales of adventure, and his inclination to treat her like an equal instead of a sheltered woman. Oliver asks Garnet to join him on the trail out west and she happily accepts. Very shortly after, they are married and have plans to travel to California so Oliver can close out his business commitments, and they will return to New York together the following year to begin their life.
While Oliver makes several more stops before getting on the trail, Garnet is absolutely enamored by her new freedom and Oliver’s delight in exposing her to all types of new experiences. One defining experience is visiting a dance hall in New Orleans where she watches a talented dancer steal the stage with her risqué performance.
The story initially follows Garnet’s experience enduring the difficulties of the trail, but as she gets to know her husband more intimately, she realizes he’s much different from who she thought he was.
Review: This story will absolutely go down as one of my all-time favorites. I give this book a hundred stars. Jubilee Trail is so much more than I could ever summarize. Garnet is strong-willed, quick as a whip, and loyal to a fault, but also comes with that sweet naivete that all of us have until we learn from certain experiences. She’s a thinker, but there are certain dreamer qualities about her that make me love her.
I so enjoy reading stories that take place in a timeframe before the mid-20th century. Especially love stories. There is something so endearing about the development of relationships prior to technology and social progression. The rawness, integrity, and simply put, the effort that men gave to impressing or pursuing a woman. All of the rules and ethics are touching. Though, Garnet didn’t exactly marry the suitor her parents had hoped, she felt truly in love with him, and they supported her relationship.
This story is about love, loss, family, friendships, and meeting unlikely people who touch your life forever. This story is about learning the hard way, and a very accurate depiction of how messy life can get, whether you’re a western pioneer, or a corporate CEO of a large company, you can relate to the difficulties of making choices and either living with them, or moving forward.
The development of each and every character is notable, and everyone has a vital place in the story, and I can’t help but to be cheesy, but – they will rest in your heart for years to come.
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