Charissa of the Overland

Author: de la Garza, Phyllis

Subjects: American History; Frontier Life; Historical Adventure; Relationships

Age: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 3709

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3709S

Charissa of the Overland Cover

Set against the action of Quantrill’s Raiders, westward expansion, Native Americans, and the chaotic conditions caused by the Civil War, this novel tells the amazing story of Charissa Pankhurst, a.k.a. Charley Pankhurst, in the 1860s.

Charissa’s parents died of typhoid. Now Southern zealots have forced her much-older husband and her to hide out and live in caves in the Ozarks. Her husband is mercifully shot when he contracts rabies, and the young, wounded Union soldier Charissa meets while living in the caves is hunted down and hanged by Quantrill’s Raiders. Feeling it her duty to tell the young man’s parents, she risks her life to get to their farm. This is Charissa’s journey of change. At the farm, needing to take control of her life, she vows to kill Quantrill. There, sixteen-year-old Charissa clips her hair and casts aside her calico skirts to morph into Charlie, a young man with freedom that a woman could never know. She then strikes out for an adventure-filled life on the rough frontier.

Intending to follow through on her vow, Charlie joins the Raiders and meets Quantrill’s young wife Kate and Doctor Benson. Kate immediately knows Charley's secret but keeps it because she wants a female friend to talk to. Doc Benson knows too, but his business is doctoring and getting to Texas. Charley helps the good doctor, breaks horses for Quantrill, and learns to drive a buckboard. Eventually Kate tells her husband about Charley, and he too keeps the secret from his men because he loves his wife. Charley finds that she cannot kill Quantrill, and she leaves the Raiders instead. She begins to work with a sixteen-mule team operation, does a stint as a horse jockey, becomes a jerk-line freighter, and eventually drives big Concord stagecoaches across the West.

Charley's relationships with men and women exude humor as she perfects her walk and her tobacco chewing and spitting expertise. They reach memorable proportions when squaws capture her spying on their ceremony and prepare to castrate her, only to discover her secret. The women collapse laughing, and Charissa makes her escape. Later, Charley becomes close to her freight-hauling boss, and she is certain that he knows she is a woman when he announces that he has a proposition to put forth. Sure that he will propose marriage, she buys a velvet dress for her unveiling. But she is mistaken. His proposition is an offer to Charley for half of the business. Those who met Charley early and recognized that she was a girl in disguise kept the secret, did not question her motivation, and offered suggestions for improving her appearance. Charissa listened well!

Phyllis de la Garza is an award-winning author of more than a dozen published books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Old West. She is a book reviewer for True West and Chronicle of the Old West, she has been a member of both Western Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and she has been a SPUR Award finalist. She is also the author of Camels West and Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, both published by Royal Fireworks Press. She lives in Willcox, Arizona.

Set against the action of Quantrill’s Raiders, westward expansion, Native Americans, and the chaotic conditions caused by the Civil War, this novel tells the amazing story of Charissa Pankhurst, a.k.a. Charley Pankhurst, in the 1860s.

Charissa’s parents died of typhoid. Now Southern zealots have forced her much-older husband and her to hide out and live in caves in the Ozarks. Her husband is mercifully shot when he contracts rabies, and the young, wounded Union soldier Charissa meets while living in the caves is hunted down and hanged by Quantrill’s Raiders. Feeling it her duty to tell the young man’s parents, she risks her life to get to their farm. This is Charissa’s journey of change. At the farm, needing to take control of her life, she vows to kill Quantrill. There, sixteen-year-old Charissa clips her hair and casts aside her calico skirts to morph into Charlie, a young man with freedom that a woman could never know. She then strikes out for an adventure-filled life on the rough frontier.

Intending to follow through on her vow, Charlie joins the Raiders and meets Quantrill’s young wife Kate and Doctor Benson. Kate immediately knows Charley's secret but keeps it because she wants a female friend to talk to. Doc Benson knows too, but his business is doctoring and getting to Texas. Charley helps the good doctor, breaks horses for Quantrill, and learns to drive a buckboard. Eventually Kate tells her husband about Charley, and he too keeps the secret from his men because he loves his wife. Charley finds that she cannot kill Quantrill, and she leaves the Raiders instead. She begins to work with a sixteen-mule team operation, does a stint as a horse jockey, becomes a jerk-line freighter, and eventually drives big Concord stagecoaches across the West.

Charley's relationships with men and women exude humor as she perfects her walk and her tobacco chewing and spitting expertise. They reach memorable proportions when squaws capture her spying on their ceremony and prepare to castrate her, only to discover her secret. The women collapse laughing, and Charissa makes her escape. Later, Charley becomes close to her freight-hauling boss, and she is certain that he knows she is a woman when he announces that he has a proposition to put forth. Sure that he will propose marriage, she buys a velvet dress for her unveiling. But she is mistaken. His proposition is an offer to Charley for half of the business. Those who met Charley early and recognized that she was a girl in disguise kept the secret, did not question her motivation, and offered suggestions for improving her appearance. Charissa listened well!

Phyllis de la Garza is an award-winning author of more than a dozen published books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Old West. She is a book reviewer for True West and Chronicle of the Old West, she has been a member of both Western Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and she has been a SPUR Award finalist. She is also the author of Camels West and Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, both published by Royal Fireworks Press. She lives in Willcox, Arizona.

Charissa of the Overland Cover

Share this book

You are viewing Home-based Switch to school-based