Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maude March on the Run! by Audrey Couloumbis

Main Characters: Maude and Sallie March
Location: Missouri, Colorado
Time period: 1860s
Genre: J Fiction, Historical Fiction, Western
Sequel to: The Misadventures of Maude March

Sallie and Maude's safe haven with their Uncle Arlen is not as permanent as they hoped. He receives a telegram from in the Colorado Territory and feels honor bound to help an old friend in trouble. Maude is still working as a waitress and baker at the saloon, Marion is in charge of the livery stable, and Sallie, still dressed as a boy, helps out in the smithy. Things should be all right, but Sallie is uneasy without Uncle Arlen. Turns out she's right--Maude is recognized and arrested, Sallie and Marion break her out of jail, and the three of them are on the run again. Not knowing what else to do, they set off for the Colorado Territory.

What follows is a series of adventures, much like we saw in the first book. The legend of "Mad Maude" March and her gang continues to grow, and this time they encounter various wannabes claiming to be the notorious Maude. The real Maude is in the odd position of not wanting the notoriety of her undeserved reputation, but not wanting these pretenders riding on her coattails, either. Fortunately, some people seem more likely to believe Maude's side of the story and it does look like she'll be able to clear her name eventually.

Though at first I felt that Uncle Arlen's leaving was just a plot device to force the girls onto the trail again, it ties back in nicely. Besides Marion, the girls gain friends in John Henry Kirby, a newspaper man who also writes the dime novels that Sallie loves so much; in fact, he's the one that wrote the stories about Joe Harden that got Marion in trouble in the first book. They also meet a medicine man and his wife who take them under their care, and a wagon train of women heading west to find husbands. These characters add some richness and depth to the story.

It's doubtful that the safe haven they find at the end of this book will be permanent either--Maude and Sallie do not seem the type to settle for a peacefull life--and I would be glad to follow any further adventures that come.

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