"Prospects of a Woman is a fascinating, complex, dark, and beautiful novel of women and sexuality on the frontier of the California gold strike days." —Douglas Glover, award-winning writer of the novel, Elle, winner of the 2003 Governor's General Award for Fiction.
Walking back to Culoma, Elisabeth took in the dry smell of the golden foothills, feeling buoyant and free. More than free. She felt as if she’d forged a powerful nugget inside her. Before climbing the ridge into town she paused by the river, marveling at the gushing power, fierce and intent, and completely different from the Concord River she knew back home. The Concord meandered slow, languid and almost still; a lazy river, content and steady, bloated with convention. And the muddy Merrimack back in Lowell, sat sick and strangled with production. The American River flowed fresh and fervid with no manners or tradition, shooting and exploding in every direction, alive with adventure and no regard for any known canon. She studied the rapids rushing past, full and fast in the middle, pulling along sticks and leaves and anything else caught up. The edges swirled by more civilized, drifting and eddying unhurried, breaking off from the chaotic main to rest for a moment before joining the torrent again downstream. Out here in California, this river ran like America itself, sprinting on a fast journey somewhere, roaring ahead, proud and sure and loud like a steam engine of the natural world. But it didn't deafen her senses like the pounding in the weaving room back at the mill. It sang a melodic rhythm infusing Elisabeth with the confidence it carried along, encouraging, prodding, and insisting she share in the adventure.