Sunday, September 23, 2012

Widder's Landing by Eddie Price ~ review

Widders Landing

  • Hardcover: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Acclaim Press (September 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193500199X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935001997

Synopsis from Acclaim Press:
A young man loses his job and is forced to relocate. No one is hiring in such bleak economic times. America finds itself threatened by a world superpower firmly in control of global trade. Money is scarce, businesses fail, and the Bank of the United States closes its doors. The country will soon be embroiled in another war. This is not present day—the year is 1811. 

Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River and settles in Breckinridge County, Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans. A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era. 

But good fortune comes at a high price. The looming war with Great Britain disrupts the economy and soon overshadows Craig’s life. He must make choices that affect others in times of conflict. Will he risk everything by fighting on the northern frontier? Will he use his special talents as a gunsmith and marksman to help his nation? After twice refusing to fight on the northern frontier, he has one last chance to join his fellow Kentuckians in the heroic defense of New Orleans. The epic battle on the sugarcane plantations below the city provides redemption for the young American nation—and for Craig, who prays to survive, to return home to his adventure in life with Mary. 

Widder’s Landing is a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier.

My take on this book:

Craig Ridgeway was only fifteen when his longing for adventure has him leaving his  family home in Philadelphia. For several years he has a comfortable life in Lancaster Pa working as a gunsmith apprentice for Jakob Wetzel, but when Jakob dies unexpectedly, Craig who is now twenty-one finds himself without a job or home. Unable to find a job in Lancaster he decides the only thing to do is leave, he stays briefly in Pittsburgh but doesn't like the city, and after hearing stories about Kentucky decides to hop a flat boat and head down the Ohio. He gets off the flatboat at Widder's Landing, so sick that he is unsure he will survive. That's when he is found by Gertrude Fuqua also known as the Widder, she strikes a bargain with Craig to nurse him back to health and pay him ten dollars if he will stay and work for her until the tobacco crop comes in. As the two get to know each other he learns of the Widder's colorful life,and also realizes that she is dying. He inherits everything the Widder owns, and decides to try his hand at farming. Soon he finds himself falling in love with the neighbor's daughter Mary, thing is she is already married to an outlaw whom she has left. 

If I had to describe "Widder's Landing" in one word it would be epic! Filled with rich historical detail, that easily drew this reader in, allowing me to connect solidly with the characters feeling  not only their struggles but their triumphs as well. Eddie Price's words paint such vivid descriptions,easily allowing me to envision the scenes he describes. I felt like I was on a grand adventure  traveling along with Craig as he set out on foot headed toward Pittsburgh, or when he was riding on the flatboat down the Ohio. When he arrives at Widder's Landing I couldn't imagine what might happen to him, and then we meet the Widder. Her description alone had me envisioning a hag like creature, and her colorful past painted an even uglier picture, honestly though for me, she was really just a lonely old lady, who was dying. It seemed before Craig came along the only confidant she had was her old mule Tom, and truthfully I shed a tear when that mule died! I found Mary's story quite interesting. She was married to a vile man, and decided to leave him, returning home to her father. It was like she was given a second chance at life when she met Craig. 

Eddie Price does a wonderful job of creating a historically accurate tale of what life must have been like during the early 1800's. I felt like I was getting a history lesson while reading this story. Rich detail, wonderful characters, and a satisfying ending make this a must read for fans of historical fiction.

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