The Platte River Waltz, The Growler Brigade

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4.00 · 1 ratings · Published: Jul 16th, 2011 {{ book.ratingTitle }}
Set in a panorama of the American West as its portrait is first being painted, The Platte River Waltz is the initial stroke in the unfolding of Josh Bonner’s tale. In 1848, only seventeen years old, on the Oregon Trail and suddenly orphaned, Josh begins a journey through the unsettled frontier of a wild continent. Just making first acquaintance with manhood, he quickly finds his future linked to Elizabeth Hampton, a coquette from his old hometown. Together they resolve to venture into an uncertain and dangerous future. Accompanied by Jubilee, an escaped slave, Josh and Elizabeth join a wagon train of Missouri emigrants led by a voyageur scout and a town constable turned captain. The couple commences a lusty exploration of the lands they pass and of each other.

The scout is the first to recognize the mettle of Josh Bonner, taking the novitiate under his wing. Others in the party, a missionary couple, an adventurous sawbones, and a clan of farmers, quickly recognize the newcomers as a formidable alliance that drives the expedition across the wild prairie. The land, the weather, and human frailty threaten, but cannot daunt their resolve. Populated with compelling characters, colorful dialog, intriguing subplots, and thrilling encounters; Bonner's Road West explores a period of American history largely passed over by contemporary historical fiction.
The Growler Brigade picks up the Bonner tale as the train departs Fort Laramie. Soon they hear of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Creek in California. Josh and Elizabeth abandon going to Oregon and opt for California, along with several other wagons. Delacroix, the scout, lets Josh lead the smaller party over one of the numerous cutoffs on the road to test him. The cutoff behind them, the train splits, with the smaller party bound to seek their fortune in the gold fields.

Josh leads the small party through The Great Basin and into the Sierra Madre Mountains just as winter begins to close the passes. Barely making it through the Bonners meet Duncan Shipwash, a mining engineer in search of backers. Together, they find a promising claim in an arroyo and plan for an arduous ordeal as the snows shuts them into the canyons.

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