October 10, 2006

Wildly Successful Adventure!

Trouble rides a fast horse, cowpoke, and if you're not careful, trouble will run you right over. That's what 11-year-old Sallie and her sister, Maude find out when their aunt is shot dead right in front of them. Orphaned for the second time in their lives, before they know it, they've lost everything -- their Aunt's house, which wasn't paid off, their independence, as they're moved into the Minister's house as unpaid servants, her quilts and clothes, which the minister's wife uses freely and puts into the missionary bundles for poor people, and their freedom -- as the minister tries to marry off Maude. Sallie is furious. She'd rather read dime novels than do anything else on earth, but even an old man who brings her some to sweeten her up can't just off and marry her sister -- she's only sixteen, and he's old! So, they cut off their long hair, take an old nag and the minister's horse -- leaving their fat milk cow in trade -- and head for the hills in search of their Uncle Arlen, whom Aunt never much approved of -- in Independence, Missouri. It's 1869 in the wild, wild west.

Sallie uses all she's learned from the dime novel Westerns she inhales to keep their pursuers off of their trail, but it's not easy to be on your own in the wild. The girls accept help from a shady gentleman and find that newspapers are laying out a trail of blame that implicates Maude first in horse theft, then in -- murder!? I can't tell you too much without giving away too many details of a thoroughly delightful Western that you'll really love. The Misadventures of Maude March is not just a great story, but it's a story about the power of information -- or misinformation -- in the media that applies to today, and the fact that what readers think they know, because they read it in a magazine or saw it on TV -- is probably all made up.

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