1850s -- fiction

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

It was Melander’s silver tongue that got the others to try to run, or rather paddle, 1200 miles to a new life. All four Swedes wanted the same—to be away from the boredom and poverty of their years-long indentures. Melander had been a sailor before being put to cut wood at New Archangel in Russian North America, and the icy waters beckoned to him.

The two others he wanted were a stolid woodsman and hunter named Karlsson and an uncommonly sweet-faced thief named Braaf. The fourth, well, he tumbled to the plan and what could the rest do? Obnoxious wind-bag though he was.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by

Eel’s early morning spent scavenging on the Thames River as a “mud-lark” brought a few things to the surface. There was a nice piece of copper, but he had to give that over to one of the stronger mud-larkers, a kindly blacksmith turned to this low way of making a living. But he did come away with two valuable things—or at least valuable to him. One was a half-drowned cat, thrown into the river by a bully boy. The other was a word of warning from the old blacksmith. Fish-Eye Bill was looking for him again, he said. A year Eel had spent in an easier life, getting his schooling, working two jobs and staying away from places he might be seen by Bill’s crew. It sounded like the makings for serious danger. Though in Deborah Hopkinson’s The Great Trouble, Eel’s problems are only beginning.

The Porcupine Year

By Louise Erdrich

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Here follows the story of a most extraordinary year in the life of an Ojibwe family and of a girl named "Omakayas," or Little Frog, who lived a year of flight and adventure, pain and joy, in 1852. When Omakayas is twelve winters old, she and her family set off on a harrowing journey. They travel by canoe westward from the shores of Lake Superior along the rivers of northern Minnesota, in search of a new home. While the family has prepared well, unexpected danger, enemies, and hardships will push them to the brink of survival. Omakayas continues to learn from the land and the spirits around her, and she discovers that no matter where she is, or how she is living, she has the one thing she needs to carry her through.
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Jericho's Journey

By G. Clifton Wisler

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As his family makes the long and difficult journey from Tennessee to their new home in Texas in 1852, twelve-year-old Jericho Wetherby, teased by his sister and brothers about his size, learns there are many ways to grow.
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Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail

By Elvira Woodruff

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In 1851, 12-year-old orphan Austin Ives joins a wagon train headed for California. As they make their way across the country, Austin writes home to his brother Levi, describing day-to-day life on the Overland Trail. In his own observant and vigorous voice, Austin tells of the everyday happenings--hunting game and fording streams--as well as more dramatic episodes, from devastating illness to complex encounters with Indians.

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La Traviata

By Giuseppe Verdi

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The setting is Paris & the surrounding area in August 1850 through February 1851. The story depicts a young man, Alfredo Germont, who falls in love with a prostitute, Violetta. She eventually realizes that she might love Alfredo as well, but does not feel that a relationship is possible because of her unworthiness as a member of a much lower class.

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The Price of a Child

By Lorene Cary

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Philadelphia: 1855
A Virginia planter is on his way to assume a diplomatic post in Nicaragua, accompanied by his cook, Ginnie, and two of her children (one of whom is his). Temporarily stranded when they miss their steamboat, Ginnie makes a thrilling leap of the imagination: it is the moment she has been desperately waiting for, the moment she decides to be free. In broad daylight, under the furious gaze of her master, she walks straight out of slavery into a new life -- and into a whole new set of compromising positions. We follow Ginnie as she settles with a respectable and rambunctious black family, as she reinvents herself, christens herself Mercer Gray, dodges slave catchers, lectures far and wide in the cause of abolition, and falls in love with a man whose own ties are a formidable barrier to their happiness.

 

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