Young Adelia Wright is left alone in the wild back country of 1890s Oregon to deal with her unpleasant brother, puberty, and not much to eat. So she takes matters into her own hands and sets out to find a better life.
Fog Coast Runaway is in the best traditions of novels from the 19th century. We have a tough young heroine with a kind heart – and she needs to be both tough and kind, because scarcely a paragraph goes by without a birth, death, fight to the death, or romantic gesture.
Linda B. Myers has packed an astonishing amount of story into just a few hundred pages. And I am thoroughly impressed by the level of historical detail, lovingly researched and described throughout the book. It’s a particular treat for connoisseurs of old-fashioned slang.
Our heroine dashes from the harsh, rocky coast to a pleasant seaside resort, a logging camp, and a loose-living town full of sailors. Then she dashes back through all those locations again, just to make the most of them. The rollicking story and historical accuracy in these chapters is a delight – but there’s so much going on that I ended the book thinking it could easily have been a trilogy.
The tale of Adelia Wright doesn’t really get going until she reaches the logging camp. In fact, we skate through her childhood and early escape at such neck-breaking speed that I wonder if the author was really very interested in those sections. They could have been described in flashbacks, or even casual conversation between characters.
Things only get really interesting when Adelia stops letting things happen, and (as Leonardo da Vinci famously recommended) starts going out and happening to things. She becomes a matchmaker, a seamstress, an adoptive sister, a businesswoman, and much more besides.
A lot of Fog Coast Runaway is about becoming the person that you choose, and creating your own place in the world. The story ends – perhaps unrealistically, but charmingly – with Adelia surrounded by a family she has built for herself. It’s a story for outsiders, and a heartfelt tribute to the friends who become family.
There are a few loose ends left untied. The symbol of Terrible Tilly lighthouse reappears again and again throughout the story, and I wish it had played a more active role. But mostly, all this story needs is a little more time. I would cheerfully have read a three-part series of Adelia’s adventures.
With that said, I can recommend Fog Coast Runaway as a thrilling story with a lot of heart, and refreshingly real characters.
Fog Coast Runaway is available to buy in various formats, here.