Karen Kondazian Liberates Charley Parkhurst Story in her novel THE WHIP

by Jon Hansen, Publisher on December 1, 2011

Karen Kondazian, author of THE WHIP

Karen Kondazian, author of THE WHIP

If you are a woman who as a young girl donned a ten-gallon hat, slung a pair cap pistols on your hips, slipped barefoot into a pair of over-sized cowboy boots and dreamed of being part of the Old West, then Karen Kondazian’s novel THE WHIP was written for you.

THE WHIP is a historical novel about the legendary stagecoach driver, or whip, Charley Parkhurst. Known as “One-Eyed Charley,”  “Six-Horse Charley,” and “Parkie” to his closest friends, Charley Darkey Parkhurst was really a woman named Charlotte. In a time when women had few vocations to choose from (wife, school teacher or prostitute), Charlotte bound her breasts tightly with strips of cloth, dressed in men’s clothing, and hit the open road as a stagecoach driver and never looked back. She was  a woman who not only lived in a man’s world—she mastered it. She could drink whiskey, chew tobacco and drive a team of six horses better than any man in her day. She became the stuff of legend as a celebrated California stagecoach driver who began driving stagecoaches from Sacramento to San Francisco during the 1849 California Gold Rush.

THE WHIP is more than a Western novel. Karen Kondazian creates an empowering and uplifting tale about a mid-nineteenth century woman for a twenty-first century reader. It is a story about love, revenge and a woman on her own. As Charlotte declares in THE WHIP,

I went out into the world…it wasn’t easy to be a woman on my own. Men get to have dreams. Women don’t.

Disguised in men’s clothing, Charlotte’s liberation begins. Her dreams of working with horses and being on her own become a reality. However, her liberation does not stop there. The narrator of THE WHIP tells it this way:

…she had the rare and exquisite freedom to choose—to move between the world of man and woman…

It is this “exquisite freedom to choose” that novelist Karen Kondazian explores with great success in creating the fictional exploits of her character, her Charlotte. Having Charlotte transform from man to woman and back again, Kondazian creates some awkward, tender and sometimes humorous moments. One day Charlotte could be dressed in a duster, sporting a shotgun and have her stagecoach heldup by a famous outlaw dressed in sugar sacks. The following evening dressed in her “whore’s wardrobe,” Charlotte could be having a tryst with a renowned gambler in the upper room of a San Francisco saloon. Although a real-life legend, the Charley Parkhurst that Karen Kondazian portrays in THE WHIP is person who liberates herself from the trappings of her time and never forgets that she’s a woman.

Had Horace Greeley read THE WHIP, he would have said, “Go West young woman, go West.”

The Whip by Karen KondazianTHE WHIP by Karen Kondazian is published by Hansen Publishing Group. THE WHIP is available as a trade paperback and as an ebook. The paperback can be ordered online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. The ebook version of THE WHIP is available on the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and other platforms.


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