Cover image for The voyage of the Continental
The voyage of the Continental
Kirkpatrick, Katherine.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, 2002.
Physical Description:
297 pages (map) ; 22 cm
In 1866, young orphan Emeline McCullough leaves her mill job in Lowell, Massachusetts, to head for Seattle, Washington, aboard the steamship Continental, writing in her diary about the intrigue, danger, and romance she encounters on her journey.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.0 10.0 65228.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.1 15 Quiz: 31983 Guided reading level: NR.
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In 1866, young orphan Emeline McCullough leaves her mill job in Lowell, Massachusetts, to head for Seattle, Washington, aboard the steamship Continental, writing in her diary about the intrigue, danger, and romance she encounters on her journey.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. In 1866, Asa Mercer organized a voyage to take "a party of ladies, composed of the orphan daughters and widows of slain Union soldiers" from New England to settle in the Washington Territory. This fictional account of that journey follows an orphaned mill girl, 17-year-old Emmy, from Lowell, Massachusetts, to New York, where she boards the steamship Continental and travels around South America to her new home in Seattle. Along the way, she finds adventure, romance, hope, danger, broken promises, good friends, and a husband. Though the plot thickens rather melodramatically, with mysterious attempts to murder Emmy and her friend Ruby and to steal Ruby's inheritance, the novel features a sympathetic heroine and a well-developed historical background. In a lengthy appended note, Kirkpatrick separates fact from fiction and gives a good deal of background information about Asa Mercer and his actual expeditions bringing women to the Pacific Northwest. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

"A man named Asa Mercer is looking for single women and widows to go with him to Seattle, in the Washington Territory. I never thought about going west before and the idea thrills me," writes 16-year-old Emeline McCullough. Based on the true story of the "Mercer Girls," Kirkpatrick's (Trouble's Daughter) novel traces Emmy's outward journey from the textile mills of Lowell, Mass., to the wilds of frontier Seattle in 1865-1866, along with her inward journey from shy, tongue-tied teen (she has a speech impediment) to confident young woman. The author spices up the proceedings with a mystery involving Emmy's benefactress and traveling companion. By the end of her voyage, the sympathetic and resilient heroine not only butts heads with the unscrupulous, opportunistic Mercer (he tries to squeeze additional passage money from the women mid-voyage and, when they reach Seattle, they learn that he has essentially sold them as brides to frontiersmen), but also survives several attempts on her life, a rocky romance and the transition to her new home, finding true love in the process. The narrative unfolds through diary entries and correspondence, and is workmanlike rather than lyrical, while the plot occasionally slips into melodrama (e.g., the plethora of problems that beset Emeline). An author's note sheds additional light on the Mercer expeditions and western emigration, but Jennifer L. Holm's recent novels about Boston Jane do a more complete job of outlining the challenges for women setting out for the frontier in the 19th century. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-When Asa Mercer makes a public plea for women to come to the Washington Territory, Emeline, 17, decides to go with the hope of becoming a teacher. Through journal entries and occasional letters, she tells of her 1866 voyage by steamer from a New England mill town to Seattle. Aboard, she meets a woman traveling under an alias who fears for her life at the hands of her abusive, swindler husband. The mystery surrounding Ruby Shaw is a main plot thread, but readers also see Emmy growing in assurance and ability throughout the trip. Courting, kissing, and learning to distinguish infatuation from true love are at the heart of this novel, which includes some real people but doesn't confine itself to known events. The combination of historical detail, murder mystery, and romance works well, keeping a long journey from becoming tedious. Eleven pages of historical and research notes indicate where the author has deviated from known facts. Readers who enjoy lighthearted historical romance will find that this one fills the bill.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.