Review of ‘Backwards to Oregon’ by Jae,
Audiobook narrated by Hayden Bishop
I’ve been hearing about this book for years but somehow never got to read it despite that Jae is one of my favourite authors. I’m not a fan of historical fiction so I thought that ‘Backwards to Oregon’ wouldn’t appeal to me, despite that, I’ve decided to give the audiobook a try. I’m happy that I did because I’ve absolutely loved it.
“Luke” Hamilton lives her life disguised as a man. A former soldier, she quit the army to migrate to Oregon in search of a better life. She only needs a wife to avoid bringing attention to herself so who better than Nora Macauley, a prostitute and mother of a small child? The three of them start a two-thousand-mile journey across the US oblivious to the dangers waiting along the way and unaware of how it will transform their lives.
This is not only a great lesbian historical romance but also a fantastic chronicle of the immigrants’ grueling journey to Western US in search of better opportunities. Jae has done a major research job on almost every single step of this two-thousand-mile journey, with extreme attention to detail. So much so that I could see in my mind’s eye the different characteristics of the landscape, the hardships of the journey and all the work involved in crossing the incredible inhospitable and challenging territories.
‘Backwards to Oregon’ is also a feminist statement, showing the discrimination faced by women in the mid-1800s, times when it was ‘better to be a criminal than a woman’ and when wives were at the total mercy of their husbands. If being a woman in that context was hard, being a lesbian was even harder. This novel is a good reminder of how lucky we are living in our times, and how difficult it still is for lesbians and women in general in some parts of the world.
This audiobook was read by Hayden Bishop who hasn’t narrated much lesfic, which is a pity as she is a truly accomplished performer. I absolutely loved her different voices which were all distinctive and authentic, including every single secondary character. There are a huge number of very demanding scenes, for instance, fights, arguments, childbirth, sex and reflective moments and Ms. Bishop nailed every single one. Colour me absolutely impressed.
There is a number of sequels and prequels to this novel including another audiobook ‘Hidden Truths’ also narrated by Ms. Bishop. I will definitely listen to that one too. If it’s similar to this one, I’ll be even happier. ‘Backwards to Oregon’ gets a very easy 5-star rating from me.