The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Carrie Welton by Charles Monagan

Charles Monagan is an award-winning journalist, writer, editor, and lyricist. Carrie Welton may just be one of the best indie-published historical novels I have read in a while.  It has its flaws, but here, finally is a complete and well-told tale... that also happens to be true!

Carrie Welton is the story of a young woman who is determined to remain untamed by an abusive father and acquiescent mother.  Hemmed in only a bit by propriety and social expectations, Carrie's life takes her from a wealthy youth in Connecticut, to the artistic communities of New York, and finally to the Rocky Mountains.  Readers can follow her childhood closeness with her horse and sympathetic companion, Knight, to her financial involvement in the beginnings of the ASPCA.  Twined with the changing politics and social temperature of the mid to late 1800s, Carrie's life is a perfect backdrop for the history that carved a new nation into a country that would not be divided.

Readers are introduced to Carrie in a prologue offered by neighbor and confidante, Frederick, who also narrates Parts 1 and 3.  It was thrilling to read the voice of a 19th century narrator written in the 21st century.  Part 2 is third-person limited, focusing on Carrie's experiences away from Rose Hill, the home in which she had met abuse and tyranny.  And here, I must admit, I missed Frederick's voice.  It was much more appealing to come through his perspective than merely watching Carrie as we do in Part 2.

Mr. Monagan's skill as writer and researcher is clear in this work.  Obvious, also, is his knack for stories that interest.  His abilities in perception and perspective carry the plot where there is little historical information available.  This made the rare moments of too-much-historical-detail forgivable.  The sense of reportage Mr. Monagan has is spot-on in his description of the effects of the coming Civil War on the communities of Connecticut.

Life doesn't have the same arc that fiction does, but Mr. Monagan gives it a hearty go in this fascinating book.  There are moments of beautiful imagery and even a few absolutely perfect sentences here.  And while I agreed to review this book because I have found myself in the same locations as Carrie (a New England childhood and adulthood in the Rocky Mountains), it is not a book that will just interest readers of local history.  It is a solid story of an intriguing personality that will haunt. 

Photo Credit:,204,203,200_.jpg

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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