The Misadventures of Maude March or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse
Audrey Couloumbis tells a story of the old west and strong women, or rather girls. The Misadventures of Maude March or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse is about two sisters who had been orphaned when they were younger. Their Aunt Ruthie had come to Cedar Rapids, originally to teach school, but now to raise her two nieces, Maude and Sallie. Sallie is the one telling of their advenutes after Aunt Ruthie is shot by Joe Harden. Sallie is also an avid reader of "dimers," paperback stories that at that time sold for a dime and told greatly exaggerated tales of various characters in the wild west, sometimes based on real people. Joe Harden is one of those people. In the dimers he is a brave hero, but in real life - not so much. Sallie and Maude are living, and doing almost all of the work, for Reverend Peasley and his large family. The Reverend had been helpful right after Aunt Ruthie died, but now he and his wife seem to be taking advantage of the girls ability to do housework and help with the children. Maude is being pushed to choose a husband, as she is fifteen years old, but she refuses to accept the two candidates the Peasleys are pushing. There is nothing left to do. Sallie and Maude cut their hair, dress like boys (thinking traveling would be safer this way) and set out for Independence, Missouri. That is the last known address of their Uncle Arlen, who they hope will be able to take them in. On the way, though no fault of their own, Maude is blamed for stealing the Reverend's horses, robbing a bank, shooting a man during the robbery, and stealing more horses among other crimes. The girls are on the run. On and off again Joe Harden (whose real name is Marion Hardley) enters their lives. He is really as down and out as they are at the moment, and on the run for shooting their Aunt Ruthie (although he claims it was an accident).
Each time trouble finds Sallie and Maude, the newspapers of the time make more of the event than what really happened. The headlines portray Maude as a hardened criminal. The girls have all they can do to keep their identities secret as they travel. The "newspaper" stories are given throughout the book in true "old west" fashion.
The Misadventures of Maude March or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse is an exciting adventure featuring two young girls who have to find their way through rough, unknown territory while keeping ahead of those who would make more trouble for them. Audrey Couloumbis already has a sequel out - Maude March on the Run or Trouble is Her Middle Name. I'm looking forward to reading it and finding out what happens to all of them - Maude, Sallie, and even Joe Harden - I mean Marion Hardley.