In Abby: Finding More Than Gold Sharon Poppen takes readers on a journey from turn of the century Chicago to the bustle of gold mine fever in Yukon. Abby Barron is an orphan who has found security in the family of her aunt and uncle, yet she and her cousin Liam dream of a life of travel and adventure. In particular, they are drawn to the notion of finding gold in Alaska. When Liam loses his life in an accident, Abby is spurred to act on their shared dream and despite the misgivings of her family sets out on a journey that leads her to love, loss, and adventure.
Sharon Poppen has a talent for bringing historical settings alive. Her descriptions of 19th century Denver and Dawson City are particularly vivid. In addition to many colorful settings, the story’s characters are also compelling. Poppen does not settle for two dimensional characters. Instead, they are complex, interesting and likeable enough to make a reader want to follow them on their many exploits. In particular, the heroine Abby, who must decide between a stable yet routine life with family and the prospect of wealth and excitement in the Yukon, is an appealing character who shows tenacity and strength throughout the trials and tribulations of her journey.
The story spans several years and the characters experience significant life changes as the novel progresses. Though it lacks some of the hallmarks of traditional historical romance novels, Ms. Poppen's story is still an enjoyable read with a fast pace, many colorful settings, and sympathetic characters with realistic motivations and desires.
In 1897, Abby Barron, a young Irish-American girl, loses her cousin to a fire and with him the plans to escape Chicago to search for gold in the Yukon fields. A want-ad for a cook revives the plan and she soon hires on with Paddy and Tommy, a medicine-show man and his son.
Despite Abby's wanderlust and Tommy's desire to settle down, the two fall in love. But it's a long road to fulfill Abby’s dreams of reaching the Yukon--one that tests the bonds of love and uncovers long-held secrets of a family.