September 30, 2023
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The Ordeals of Elly Robin
Book Reviews Fiction History

The Ordeals of Elly Robin by P.D. Quaver: A Fun and exciting historical Journey

Author: P.D. Quaver

Genre: Historical fiction, musical prodigies.

Year Published: 2015

Nerdection Rating:

Nerdection Must Read”

The Ordeals of Elly Robin by P.D. Quaver is a coming-of-age story, that begins with Elly surviving the San Francisco Earthquake. Her travels (and ordeals) take her (and us!) from vaudeville stages, to hobo jungles, to the gilded palaces of the rich; she will witness not just the Great San Francisco Earthquake, but the birth of jazz in New Orleans, the virtual slavery of young immigrants in a Chicago sweatshop, and the horrors of World War One; Zelig-like she will encounter the likes of Emma Goldman, Louis Armstrong, Fatty Arbuckle, and George Gershwin.

Spoiler-free Plot

It’s the year 1906 and we are introduced to a young girl named Elly Robin, traveling across America at the time. Elly happens to be a piano prodigy and this situation, along with many other factors that happen during the series, leads her to take part in a lot of key historical events in the country.

As the story of the book (and the series) progresses, Elly runs into a lot of people and situations that people knowledgeable of American history are going to be familiar with, kick-starting a lot of events in this series.

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My take on The Ordeals of Elly Robin

Like a lot of people, I’m very drawn to what a writer can do with an interesting premise. This, in a way, can get the gears in your head running and make you think about what you can do with a lot of different concepts, making the journey all the more exciting. The Ordeals of Elly Robin is exactly that in book form.

Writer P.D. Quaver is definitely a history buff and makes good use of it in this book without ever becoming heavy with information or historical facts, which is something that a lot of historical fiction writers tend to struggle with. Plus, there is a lot of focus on the character of Elly and she is fun, and enjoyable and has her own agency with her music, which is a key factor when developing a protagonist–the desire and motivation to do something in particular.

Quaver also makes a lot of effort in describing the scenes and drawing a mental image in your brain. I have seen writers making common mistakes here, adding a lot of unnecessary descriptions, but the writing here is on point and it adds to the ambiance of the scenes we are reading, which is always nice.

Plus, it’s fun. That’s the most important part. There is an element of excitement and adventure in this book that makes you feel comfortable with the characters and you want to see how the story progresses. And that is the biggest compliment that I can give to a writer.


About The Author Of The Ordeals of Elly Robin

P.D. Quaver

After enjoying a long career as a professional pianist, PD Quaver is now semi-retired. Always a voracious and omnivorous reader, he has spent the past decade pursuing a life dream by reinventing himself as a novelist.

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