The Journey of Josephine Cain, by Nancy Moser

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A pampered socialite embarks on a journey to the Wild West where her life is changed forever.

A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general’s daughter from the nation’s capital. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, and courageous, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love.

The AMC series Hell on Wheels has shown us that the developing railroad was no place for a lady. Each end of the line location became a temporary town of rough and ready amenities for men far away from home with pay burning a hole in their pockets. Saloons and brothels were the main source of entertainment, although occasionally some plucky preacher would attempt to ‘civilize’ the settlement. It’s no wonder, therefore, that General Cain refuses his daughter’s request to accompany him when he travels west to take up his new position. But Josephine is stifled in a home where her mother has taken up permanent mourning over her brother’s death and longs for excitement. When Lewis Simmons, an artist, takes an interest in her she seems content to stay in Washington and hopes to soon be married. But is Lewis who he appears to be?

Initially, Josephine is not an easy character to like. She is definitely a “Daddy’s girl” who knows the General has a hard time saying no to her. She is self-absorbed to the extent that she blames the “stupid war” on ruining her coming out season. Her journey isn’t so much a physical one as she travels west, but one of growth and maturation. Her experience at the first railroad camp opens her eyes as she meets people from different backgrounds but it doesn’t deter her from wanting to return to the end of the line. I liked General Cain’s trusted employee, Hudson Maguire immediately, not least because he came from Allegheny City in Pennsylvania which was soon to become Pittsburgh’s North Side! The way in which his physical appearance was described reminded me of the character of Cullen Bohannon from Hell on Wheels. The least said about Lewis Simmons the better; suffice it to say that he’s not a good match for the General’s daughter.

The Journey of Josephine Cain is a richly detailed novel that delves into an important time in America’s history. Josephine and Hudson are fictional, but important contributors to the Transcontinental Railroad are also included, such as General Grenville Dodge and Thomas Durant. The aftermath of the Civil War is also an important plot point: former soldiers from both sides of the conflict worked side by side on this immense project, when perhaps a year previously they had been shooting at one another. I have read other historical novels by Nancy Moser – my first was Mozart’s Sister several years ago. I’m happy to say I enjoyed The Journey of Josephine Cain just as much as those.

Thank you to Summerside Press and Litfuse for my free copy of The Journey of Josephine Cain, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Into New Territory: an article by Nancy Moser   

Publisher: Summerside Press (an imprint of Guideposts)

Publication Date: 01 September 2013

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Nancy Moser’s Website   Guideposts’ Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

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