The Whip
by Karen Kondazian

Hansen Publishing Group, 2012. ISBN 978-1-601-82302-1.
Reviewed by Dawn Wink
Posted on 02/07/2014

Fiction: Historical

"...he gave me the unique understanding of how adventure, freedom and loneliness seem to go hand in hand."
The Whip, Karen Kondazian

Throughout the mid 1880s, Charley Parkhurst lived the rough male life of a whip, stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo. He earned high praise from his bosses, his friends the other whips, and passengers for his expertise as a driver and the consistent safety of his passengers. Then, upon his death, much to the surprise of all—it was discovered that Charley was a woman.

Inspired by this true story, award-winning writer and actress Karen Kondanzian opens the door to a life of courage and mystery in her novel, The Whip. Drawing from newspaper articles and quotations from people who know Charley Parkhurst, Kondazian weaves fiction and fact together seamlessly into a poignant and profound read.

Tragic events of Parkhurst's early life lead her to seek revenge and make the choice to live as a man—a choice that both opens doors of opportunity otherwise locked to women and binds her to a life of deception. Assuming the costume and persona of a man, Parkhurst became known for her superb handling of horses and the safety of her passengers. Kondazian brings to life Parkhurst's experiences as a woman to create a world, inviting the reader to continually consider, "What would I have done?"

Kondazian leaves the complexities of this life of adventure and secrecy to the reader's imagination. There is an openness about her writing that encourages the reader to expand on these complexities, rather than diminishing them with answers. Kondazian's deft hand and sophisticated touch invites these complexities to live in the imagination. While the setting of The Whip takes place over a century ago, the questions raised about the choices we make and their consequences on our lives remain pressing and relevant today.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Karen Kondazian is a journalist and award winning theater actress, distinguishing herself by portraying the women of Tennessee Williams. She has also guest starred in over 50 television shows and films, including playing Kate Holliday in the award winning David Wolper TV movie, "Showdown at the OK Corral." Visit her website.

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