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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jubilee Trail

Bristow, Gwen. Jubilee Trail. I thoroughly enjoyed this re-read of one of my favorite books from my adolescence. In 1844, Garnet Cameron graduated from Miss Wayne's Select Academy for Young Ladies in Manhatten. Ready to tackle the world, Garnet finds the confines (and eligible young men) of New York society boring, but is too well-bred and polite to completely understand her own feelings.

Along comes a handsome young man from California who, after several years of crossing the continent as a prairie trader, finds New York society as restricted as Garnet does. As Oliver Hale regales Garnet with stories of California and the Oregon Trail, Garnet's longing for adventure increases, and she falls in love with the man who offers her experiences she could never have otherwise.

Before long the two are married and off for a brief honeymoon in New Orleans before embarking on the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri, crossing the prairies, mountains, and desert to California, a journey of 2000 miles. The first stretch, the Santa Fe Trail, was 900 miles and took nearly two months across the prairies. After that, more than half the journey, the Rockies, and the desert were still ahead.

There are some wonderful characters, lots of exciting adventures, great hardships. The historical aspects from this time period when the Texas, New Mexico, and California territories belonged to Mexico are fascinating, and the hardships endured by those who made this journey were so tremendous that my respect for those early pioneers is almost boundless.

The book is a bit old-fashioned, but still a great read.

(some diaries from early pioneers on the trail)

Fiction. Historical romance/adventure. 1950. 564 pages.


  1. I think I liked Jubilee Trail more than Celia Garth but they were both good summer reading from my grandmother's bookshelves.

  2. I think I first read this when I was in High School. Loved it! I re-read it later, but it's been a long time. Might have to find it again.

  3. I love hearing of people who reread their favorite books! I do that every now and then.. gearing up for that as soon as I finish a few new books.. need a rest from buying.. and I miss certain characters that I have come to love so I love rereading them.

  4. The book sounds like fun, and I loved the links to the Oregon Trail site--I'll probably share that with my kids. Thanks!

  5. Jill - I read 2 or 3 other books by Bristow, but none of them made the same impression. Maybe it was the all of the events on the Oregon Trail that captivated me...

    SuziQ - It must be the perfect book for high school girls; I never got tired of it.

    G. R. - Kids would probably really enjoy a lot of the information about the various trails and the hardships of moving so far with so few amenities.

  6. If I wandered into someplace like Barnes and Noble or Borders, would this novel be there?

  7. I can't believe someone besides me remembers and reads (or rereads) Gwen Bristow's books. I loved them as a teen. A few years ago, I decided to see if I could find them again and they all sit on my shelf at this moment. I loved "Jubilee Trail" although "Celia Garth" was probably my favorite. I also enjoyed "Calico Palace". Have you read that one? It takes place in the Gold Rush days of San Francisco if I remember correctly. Thanks for a trip down memory lane. I should pull some of those off my shelf and do a reread but, you know, sometimes I just like to see them on the shelf and touch their spines remembering.

    Love your blog. I came to it from Nan's "Letters from a Hill Farm".