In San Francisco during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, Rachel Van Buren has
only two wishes: to protect her younger siblings, and to return East as soon as possible. Both goals prove more difficult than she could imagine as her brother and sister are lured by the cityís dangerous freedom.
Put in this situation by the unexpected death of her father, Rachel is inexperienced with such responsibilities and often leans on the teachings of her now-deceased mother concerning the proprieties of being ladylike. As she strives for decorum in a male-only town, she is classified as a Sunbonnet by the town folk, distinguishing her from the ladies of the evening.
Rachelís heart is broken when her sisterís decides to become a kept woman. Lissaís primary reason for the lifestyle change is the ease of such a life, the beautiful clothes, the attention, and all the comforts, without all the work she has been sharing with Rachel to make a living. Their younger brother, Michael works as many odd jobs as he can squeeze into the day and most days into evenings. As their only male relative, Michael too is disappointed and hurt by Lissaís defection to the seedy life, which he feels is due to some shortcoming on his part to protect and provide for his sisters. Michael pulls some capers himself, but nothing so life-altering.
Rachel finds herself attracted to Johnnie, the man who helped them find work and housing when they arrived in town. He is always around whenever some situation threatens Rachel. Their paths continue to cross and, after spending some time together, they find themselves falling in love with each other. They make an unlikely pair: he is a former
missionary, now a gambler, she a true Christian lady. Rachel wonít give up without a fight though, and soon all will learn an eloquent but humorous lesson about what truly makes a lady.
The Measure of a Lady is that rare book that makes you feel as if you already know the characters and that draws you immediately into their story. Full of unexpected turns, humor, bittersweet love, and human frailties, this book proves Gist to be a captivating storyteller.