The Travels of Jamie McPheeters is the sweeping, romance-warmed story of the journey of a father and his son answering the lure of California gold in 1849.
It was a harsh trip, often halted by cut-throats, Indians, disease, and murder. yet a trip of pastoral beauty, full of wonder for an untrod land and awakening youg love.
The novel carries you along as swiftly as it moves from crisis to crisis in the long trek from Louisville to far California. The open-eyed clarity with which young Jamie observed all around him - the skinning alive of a depraved bully; the incorrigible bombast of his father, Dr. Sardius McPheeters; the nakedness of maidenly Jennie getting ready for bed - reveals the true picture of wagon-training West a century and a half ago as painted by a major author.
The whole wagon train of characters - heroic or mean, good folk or bad - combine with the novel's humor, bloodletting, romance, and action to make The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters a special reward in exciting, bitter realism, and touching tenderness.
If Huck Finn had gone West during the Gold Rush and lived to tell about it, he might have sounded much like Jaimie McPheeters in describing his incredibly hazardous trek by wagon train to California in 1849. Jaimie shares the storytelling with his father, an intelligent Scottish doctor whose ebullient personality is only slightly undermined by a weakness for gambling and strong drink. Reader Michael Lee is totally convincing as he reproduces, first, the thick Scottish brogue of the father; and then, the excited innocence of 14-year-old Jaimie. This audiobook's appended afterword, citing the author's impeccable research, makes it clear why the book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959. Like Lonesome Dove (Audio Reviews, LJ 2/15/93), another Pulitzer Prize winner, it transforms history into breathtaking adventure. Highly recommended.-- Jo Carr, Sarasota, Fla.