Endorsements for
Charley’s Choice

“It is rare and refreshing to find such a well-drawn and complex female character. Charley is colorful, flawed, generous, and yet vengeful when provoked. The author gracefully addresses topics of women’s rights without ever being heavy handed, primarily through her excellent portrayal of a fully fleshed-out protagonist that feels real and believable in situations that read as true events instead of talking points.

“The entire book is imbued with a deep love and respect for horses that will ring true to any equestrian fan. Charley embodies the American pioneering spirit with her tough, driven, but exuberant, life.”


“Highly readable.... After finishing this novel you may want to check out Charley on the Internet to see how closely Fern Hill's character coincides with what is known about the "original" Charley Parkhurst. I'd give the author high marks for the effort she put into this manuscript.”

ROBERT WALCH, book reviewer of The Salinas Californian

"CHARLEY'S CHOICE" is a solid choice for an unorthodox novel with a unique message.

SUSAN BETHANY, Reviewer�s Bookwatch: January 2009, Midwest Book Review

“An inspiring story about a strong and determined women who started with nothing but a dream.”  


 “A fictionalized biography of a real life woman of true grit, CHARLEY'S CHOICE is an engaging, well written story.”

EUNICE BOEVE, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail

“This was one book I didn't want to put down. I found the story of Parkhurst's life inspiring...”


“This book is for every woman who chafes under the restrictive reins of our male-dominated society. Fern Hill's sensitive handling of the life of this courageous woman put me on a time machine back to Charley's time and kept me spellbound from start to finish. A real triumph and highly recommended.”

RUTH RYMER, author of Susannah, A Lawyer

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book.  What an adventure.”

GWYN RAMSEY, author of Journey to Tracer�s Point

“Those who love history and horses and stories of people who prevail against overwhelming odds are in for a treat when they read CHARLEY'S CHOICE by Fern J. Hill. Fern's meticulous research and knack for telling a good tale make the story of Charley Parkhurst's adventures and lifelong masquerade a great read.”


“What an amazing story this is! The story of Charley Parkhurst, as told by Fern Hill, will stay with me for a long time. Fern wove the few known details of the life of Charley Parkhurst into an unforgettable tale. I found myself thinking about Charley and her life while doing other things, and now that I have finished the book I am still thinking about it. That's a sure sign of a good book. I will be recommending it to a lot of people, but in particular a few young women who are struggling to find their way in the world. This book makes the point that you just do what you need to do, and get on with it. Thanks, Fern, for such a good read!”

“Miss Hill's wonderful book ... holds your attention right to the end!”


"Think `Tootsie' in reverse. Add horses and coaches, the lure of the historical Wild West, and you'll meet Charley Parkhurst, nee Charlotte - a fearless woman who found her independence living as a man."

RUTH M. VARNEY, writer, editor, reader

“The character of Charlie is rough and competitive, yet tender and compassionate. It's a book I couldn't put down. I highly recommend this book to all.”


“I was sad to get to the end, because I wanted MORE!!! I suggest this book to everyone who will listen. Kudos to Fern for introducing us to Charley Parkhurst! Thank you!”


“What an amazing life Charley lived as a woman posing as a man in such a harsh time in our history. I love stories based upon truth that show us what others have done and the odds they have surmounted to make their lives what they wanted it to be. I became engrossed in the story wondering if she would be "found out" and what happened to the baby she had. I am referring this book to all my friends!”


“I couldn't put the book down once I started reading, its a real page turner, I really wanted to know what adventure Charley was about to step into next. Such a great job in character development, I felt proud to know this individual was once truly alive to ride upon our country. I highly recommend reading this great story based on the actual life and times of this amazingly resilient individual.”


“I picked up your book to read, and I know I won't be able to read anything else till I've finished it.  You have done a marvelous job—”


“I could not put it down. I think there is a movie here Fern...”


"CHARLEY’S CHOICE by Fern J. Hill is one of those charming historical novels that make you yearn for a time machine.  Beautifully written and thoroughly accessible, this novel is also a celebration of the freedom of choice and the importance of equality.  Brava!"

JONATHAN MABERRY, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Bad Moon Rising and Patient Rising

American history is filled with stories of courageous women who served as soldiers, gold miners, spies, and powerful business leaders—in a time when women were forbidden such roles. CHARLEY’S CHOICE is the masterful tale of a frontier woman brave enough to spit in the eye of the Devil himself. Fern Hill’s portrait of Charley ranks as one of the finest characterizations I’ve read in a very long time.

—KATHLEEN O'NEAL GEAR, author of The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus

"Fern J. Hill’s debut novel, Charley’s Choice The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst, reveals a remarkable and memorable character.  While one may not always agree with Charley’s choices, one can understand them because Fern J. Hill takes us inside Charley’s life in telling this fascinating story. There can be no doubt that here was a person with a great passion for horses and for driving big stages in an era when doing so meant both adventure and danger; and it was clearly not the purview of women.  Fern’s fictional biography reminds us of what must be sacrificed to live a full life enduring the trials and triumphs that a dream demands; and of the friends we all need along the way. Kudos to Fern for bringing Charley Parkhurst to life!"

—JANE KIRKPATRICK, best-selling author of A Sweetness to the Soul, winner of the Wrangler Award for the Outstanding Western Novel.

"Charley Parkhurst’s life might seem unbelievable, but Fern J. Hill makes it not only credible but fascinating. I really loved this book, read it in one sitting because it was impossible to put down. But Charley’s exploits linger - an inspiration, a woman with a mind of her own who did what she wanted and showed ‘em all! Thank you Fern J. Hill."

—JANE CANDIA COLEMAN, author of The White Dove and Tumbleweed

"The story of Charley Parkhurst does not fall easily into place. Details of her life are scarce, yet Fern Hill artfully weaves them like golden threads among the warp and woof of a tale spun from fact and fiction. The result is a seamless tapestry with the rough texture of the old west depicting a woman’s struggle for equality in a world dominated by men. Charley’s Choice is my choice for the best fictionalized biography. A must read."

—JOHN EVANS, author of The Cut.

"Charley Parkhurst has long been an enigmatic figure in the Old West. In her first novel Fern Hill has skillfully blended historical research with fiction to give Charley a unique and entirely believable voice. And anyone who loves horses or understands driving them will be doubly rewarded."

—PERSIA WOOLLEY, author of How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction

"Charley’s Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst is a fascinating tale of a well played lifetime masquerade and a good read. The basis in fact and the placement of the tale in the events and social structure of the time fit together to make the narrative whole. The author’s knowledge of horses grounds the story to make it believable for the reader. The inclusion of the few feminine friends adds to the realism as the need is part of the feminine psyche."

—JO-BREW, author of Marge, Back on Track

"A richly detailed, vividly imagined, and sympathetic life of the  mysterious Charlotte Parkhurst, who courageously defied her gender's destiny to, literally, become her own man."

—JOANN LEVY, author of  They Saw The Elephant: Women In The California Gold Rush

"With lots of pluck, and a little luck, Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst dared to lead a life denied to women of the 19th century. Fern Hill’s excellent grasp of the historical context provide vivid details of daily life, and intimate insights into family structure and the relationships between men and women. Although little is known of the real Charley, Fern Hill’s account of what Charley’s life could have been is fascinating and entirely plausible. In Charley’s Choice, the reader experiences vivid intimate details of one woman’s choice to overcome extraordinary difficulties in a man’s world."

—JANE BORG, archive volunteer of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association

"If you liked Forge Books’ “Women of the West” series, you’ll love Fern Hill’s Charley’s Choice. With her passion for historical detail and a good story about a strong, independent woman, Fern spins a fascinating tale that’ll make you want to find out which parts are fictional and which are historical."

—MELANIE GOLD, writer, editor and amateur historian

"The author gives Charley Darkey Parkhurst—a character ripped from the pages of American history—a voice so frisky that you can’t believe she’s been dead for more than a century and a half.  You can feel the broken in leather of her coach driving gloves and smell the manure clinging to her boots and see the determined set of her jaw as she finds a way to buck discrimination against the weaker sex by living as a man. ... Good for Fern J. Hill for resurrecting this remarkable character—I won’t forget Charley, and what she sacrificed to live a life of her own design."

—KATHRYN CRAFT, writer and manuscript editor