The Misadventures of Maude March: Or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse
Random House, 2005 (2005)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
ave you ever been in the right place at the wrong time, or vice versa? And gained fortune and fame, or misfortune and notoriety? Well, get ready to read about Maude March and her sister Sallie as they travel west in search of a relative. Momma and Poppa March died from the fever six years ago, when Sallie was five and Maude nine. Aunt Ruthie became their guardian, and they live in their inherited homestead in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While exiting the store, Ruthie is caught in crossfire, and killed by a bullet to the heart. Orphaned for the second time, with the bank claiming their home for back mortgage payments, Sallie and Maude are taken in by Reverend and Mrs. Peasley.
hey run away,
two of the Peasleys' horses, to search for Uncle Arlen who, according to letters to his sister Ruthie, runs a livery in Independence, Missouri. Their father's compass guides them west and south, as they recall what Aunt Ruthie once said: '
The man had a terrible sense of direction. He could get lost on a trip to the outhouse.
' Sallie and Maude cut their hair short, and travel disguised as boys. The saga is narrated by Sallie, a
reader of western adventures known as
. Sallie has a writer's mind and a great freedom of spirit. She envisions a dime novel with her face on the cover - '
Sallie March, Range Rider
'. Maude is a strong-willed, determined individual who can shoot a rifle with the best.
n the trail, they meet Joe Harden, born as Marion Hardly, who denies to Sallie that he is frontier fighter Harden featured in the
. Marion travels a distance with the girls, giving them tips about and survival, but he also gives them something else - unwanted, unexpected exposure! Unbeknownst to the girls, Marion robs a bank in Des Moines - just when Maude and Sally go into the bank to talk with him. Someone is shot, and the rest is history, as newspapers post: '
WANTED 'Mad' Maude and Her Gang for Horse Thievery, Bank Robbery, and Murder
'. The postings haunt the sisters, so that Maude ponders, '
I never expected to be a headline before.
' The WANTED notices cause upheavals more than a few times, and Marion is double-trouble compounded more than a few times!
he book cover is embossed resembling a 3-D projection of two girls on a strong horse whipping out of the middle. Inside the covers are unique advertisements such as: '
Dr. Radway's Sarsaparillian Resolvent
'. There's also a map notated '
Trail of the Notorious 'Mad' Maude March and Her Gang of Robbers, Murderers, and Horse Thieves Across Iowa & Missouri ~1869~
'. Audrey Couloumbis won the 2000 Newbery Honor for
Getting Near to Baby
. Maude's and Sallie's adventures are non-stop action, with compelling characters, varmints of all species, and a few nice folk too.
The Misadventures of Maude March
is a mighty fine read! If I were to meet Maude and Sallie, I would tell them, '
You Go Girls!
' And watch out for
Maude March Rides Again!: Trouble Is Her Middle Name!
I think this book would make a fine TV movie.
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