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Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow Review

Title: Jubilee Trail

Author: Gwen Bristow

First published January 1, 1950

576 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9781556526015 (ISBN10: 1556526016)

Rating: 4.13

Overview

The world believes that the Romanov family is dead, but they don’t know the truth. Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov has been given a dangerous mission: to smuggle an ancient spell in her luggage during her exile in Siberia.

If successful, the spell could be the only hope for her family’s survival. However, the Bolshevik army’s leader is on their trail, and he has hunted down the Romanovs before.

With time running out, Nastya must make a difficult decision: release the spell and face the unknown consequences or seek the aid of Zash, a charming soldier who doesn’t behave like a typical Bolshevik. Nastya’s inexperience with magic pales in comparison to the fear she feels for her growing attraction to Zash.

As Nastya falls for him, she realizes that he might feel the same way. That is, until they find themselves on opposite sides of a firing squad.

About the Author

Meet Bristow – an American author and journalist who attended Columbia University. After completing her studies, she wrote for several literary magazines and journals before relocating to New Orleans where she worked at the Times-Picayune.

Her love for longer writing forms like novels and short stories was sparked by her husband, screenwriter Bruce Manning. In 1929, she published her first novel and went on to achieve great success.

Her western romance novel Jubilee Trail, in particular, became a bestseller in 1950 and was even adapted into a moderately successful film in 1954.

Editoral Review

Gwen Bristow’s Jubilee Trail is a classic work of historical fiction that explores the challenges and triumphs of settlers on the American frontier. First published in 1950, this novel is not only a thrilling adventure story, but also a vivid portrayal of a time and place in American history that continues to fascinate readers today.

Set in the mid-19th century, Jubilee Trail takes us on a journey from New York City to California via the Oregon Trail. The story follows Garnet Cameron, a young woman from a wealthy Southern family who sets out on the trail with her new husband, Oliver Hale.

Along the way, they encounter a cast of colorful characters, including a French countess, a frontier scout, and a group of gold prospectors. As Garnet adapts to life on the trail, she must navigate the harsh landscapes and dangerous situations that arise, all while staying true to her own values and desires.

Bristow’s writing style is both eloquent and engaging, with vivid descriptions of the natural surroundings and finely-drawn characterizations. Her attention to historical detail is impressive, and readers can easily envision the harsh terrain of the western United States and the struggles of the pioneer families who settled there.

Additionally, Bristow’s exploration of the social and cultural issues of the time, particularly regarding the treatment of Native Americans and women’s roles in society, provides an interesting commentary on the era and its values. One of the novel’s biggest strengths is its characterization, particularly of Garnet, who undergoes a complex and compelling journey of self-discovery over the course of the novel.

Bristow also creates a memorable and diverse ensemble cast, each with their own unique struggles and motivations. The tension and conflicts that arise between these characters make for a thrilling read, with moments of both heart-wrenching tragedy and exhilarating triumph.

While Jubilee Trail is undoubtedly an enjoyable and well-written novel, it does have a few shortcomings. At times, the pacing can feel slow or uneven, particularly in the early parts of the book.

Additionally, some readers may take issue with the portrayal of Native American characters, who are depicted in a somewhat simplistic and stereotypical way. Despite these issues, Jubilee Trail remains a classic work of historical fiction that is well worth reading for fans of the genre.

Its themes of self-discovery, love, and perseverance in the face of adversity are timeless, and its vivid portrayal of frontier life is both fascinating and educational. Overall, this book will appeal to readers who appreciate a well-crafted adventure story with richly-drawn characters and a vivid sense of history.

Rating: 4/5

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