Eliza Waite manages to survive all manner of awful tragedies; there is no keeping this driven woman down. Making her way from Missouri to the San Juan Islands to Alaska in 1898, Eliza finds strength she never imagined she had. Based on gold rush history and personal diaries of the time, Sweeney tells the great story of one woman's journey alone in the world. Peppered throughout with 19th-century recipes, Eliza Waite is a charming historical tale of the settling of Alaska, but also of the bravery and tenacity of pioneer women. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Eliza Waite is a good read for historical fiction fans who like their characters gritty, honest, and flawed. Food history buffs will enjoy the many historical recipes sprinkled throughout. Widowed Eliza is alone and grief stricken on what is essentially a deserted island in Washington’s Strait of Juan de Fuca. She forages the island’s slim bounty and homesteads by herself, treating herself to the small joys of baking. Working through her grief, she eventually leaves her island to return to the mainland, broke and on her own, to forge a new life as a baker in Alaska during the Klondike gold rush. Hardscrabble Alaska is filled with miners and prostitutes, and now one plucky feminist baker. Debut author Ashley E. Sweeney’s Alaska feels authentic, muddy and cold, exciting and scary, and teeming with the sort of characters you’d expect to find in a boomtown. Recommended By Tracey T., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
After the tragic death of her husband and son on a remote island in Washington s San Juan Islands, Eliza Waite joins the throng of miners, fortune hunters, business owners, con men, and prostitutes traveling north to the Klondike in the spring of 1898. When Eliza arrives in Skagway, Alaska, she has less than fifty dollars to her name and not a friend in the world but with some savvy, and with the help of some unsavory characters, Eliza opens a successful bakery on Skagway s main street and befriends a madam at a neighboring bordello. Occupying this space a place somewhere between traditional and nontraditional feminine roles Eliza awakens emotionally and sexually. But when an unprincipled man from her past turns up in Skagway, Eliza is fearful that she will be unable to conceal her identity and move forward with her new life. Using Gold Rush history, diary entries, and authentic pioneer recipes, Eliza Waite transports readers to the sights sounds, smells, and tastes of a raucous and fleeting era of American history."