Author: Fern J. Hill
Published by Infinity
ISBN: 0-7414-4643-X

Click Here To Purchase Charley's Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst

We all have tough choices to make in our lives, but when those choices force us to keep secrets we are always afraid will catch up with us, it can lead to a tumultuous life of always looking over our shoulder and wondering who we can trust.

In Charley’s Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst, author Fern J. Hill explores the inner life of a woman who kept her gender a secret for most of her life while she earned her living as a stage-coach driver during the gold rush era in the United States.

Hill takes the bare-bone facts about this historical figure and breathes life into them, creating a character that has lived an extraordinary life under difficult circumstances. Charley can be crass and distant while at other times being warm and loving. She is also thoughtful and sympathetic while also being standoffish and selfish. Because of her choice to be perceived as a man, she is often unable to allow people to form a close relationship with her, for fear that they would discover her secret; however, she is fiercely loyal to those with whom she bonds.

While Hill addresses gender, racial and social issues, she does so subtly, in Charley’s brusque voice. When Charley confronts an unexpected pregnancy, she is forced to consider the same options faced by countless other women. She becomes frustrated when she can’t avoid a decision by pretending to be a man, as she has in the past. “I wanted to ride free of this, too, but couldn’t, not only ’cause of the kid growing in my belly, but something deeper still.” She observes that, “Men and women are made different at their core. Men protect and women preserve what’s important to them.”

Even though Charley has to take on the role of a man in order to do the work she loves, a recurring theme in the novel is her gratitude for being free to make such a choice. She encounters other people throughout her life who are enslaved in some form or another and do not have the option.

Charley’s Choice’ is a character-driven look at history, in which we get to see how far we have come and also how far we still have to go. Although a woman can now obtain a career a “man’s world” without having to pretend to be a man, many obstacles still exist and the injustices Charley faced are still faced in the modern world. By examining this historical figure and her place in the world, Hill holds up a mirror to current society and the choices we make.

Click Here To Purchase Charley's Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst