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Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite
The Price of a Contract by Ellen Kingman Fisher is an epic historical fiction novel, taking the reader on a magnificent journey from the East to the West Coast during the late 1800s. Kate Sinclair is not the type of woman who wants to marry and settle down. Instead, she’d rather explore the great United States, opened up to so many by the Transcontinental Railroad. She bravely journeys to San Francisco, meeting Frank Ellsworth, who is about to start a job with Western Union, a telegraph company. He suggests that Kate might enjoy the challenge of working as a telegraph operator, and with that, Kate sets out to learn the trade. However, her work is not with its obstacles, namely that she’s a woman. Still, she manages to surpass the odds and become a traveling telegrapher, journeying to offices all across the states to help them work more efficiently. In the process, she and Frank begin to form a deeper relationship. Yet, when he suggests something more, Kate is reluctant to commit for reasons she cannot grasp. Will she be able to confide in Frank the true reason for her hesitancy, or is he going to end up lost to her forever?
A fantastic example of American historical fiction set at the turn of the century, The Price of a Contract by Ellen Kingman Fisher was a well-researched and engaging read. Kate’s character was admirable in how she fought to be respected as a working woman in a time when women had very few rights. Her bravery and fortitude in forging her path were inspiring. I liked how she took her time to really get to know Frank over the years, and how he respected her and her ideas. Fisher wove together a beautiful story and kept me hooked from the first page. It was amazing to read about early San Francisco as well, as it’s where I was born and raised. I highly recommend this novel for anyone interested in turn-of-the-century historical fiction set in the United States, and for anyone interested in how the telegraph and railroads shaped the growing country.