The Whip

Book review: The Whip – Karen Kondazian

About The Whip (2011)

The WhipLife can be tough! Imagine falling in love with a runaway slave and having his child. Or tracking a killer who destroyed your family. Living your life as a man, making your living as a stagecoach driver, or killing a famous outlaw. Any one of those things would qualify as a tough life but what if they ALL happened to you? They did to Charley Parkhurst and The Whip is the story of her incredible life in the Wild West of the 1860s.

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Review: The Whip

Is it a poor review that starts “I really don’t know where to begin”?  It probably is but it is the truth.  There is so much to Karen Kondazian’s historical fiction novel, The Whip, that I don’t know how to get it on to paper.

Let’s start with the facts.  This is based on a true story and the central character is Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, a woman who found herself disguising herself as a male during her life on several occasions for different reasons.  The Whip tells her story from childhood until death and covers some extraordinary events.

Set in the Wild West in the 19th century, this is a rapid-paced tale of fast horses, deadly weapons and loose women but amongst all those things Kondazian has managed to weave some unbelievable tenderness and poignancy.  Parkhurst is portrayed beautifully as fiercely independent, strong and stubborn but also loving and courageous and a survivor.

The book depicts Pankhurst’s life as both a man and woman and the change in persona that accompanies her outward portrayal of both sexes.  It is all at once a story of adventure, romance, tragedy, humour, love, loss, psychology and expectation.  I greatly enjoyed this ‘fact into fiction’ portrayal of a remarkable woman and hope to read more from Kondazian in the future.

Verdict: 4/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)

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Donna Brown

Ever developing teacher and learner (online and offline!). Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Married to Dave and his co-author of Man vs Cat, a book about - you guessed it - our cats (or rather their unusual take on the world). Occasional writer of short stories.
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