Paulette Mahurin’s excellent novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, explores a late 19th century small community’s response to the arrest and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for “gross indecency.” The town folks spew forth hatred and fear of homosexuality that lands at Mildred’s doorstep, despite her goodness and support of these same people.
As I read the book, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific grabbed me with the song “You’ve Got to be Taught to Hate and Fear.” The music and words written fifty years after Mildred’s story would not leave me. The musical is sixty years old now; the theme is ageless. Mahurin digs deeply into the relationships, history and inner feelings of her subjects more intently and compassionately than found in most novels. We learn how the characters were taught to” hate and fear,” and to hide. The author sensitively shows huge changes in the outlook, behavior and growth of her characters. The storyline is strong as the characters take the reader on their journeys.
I look forward to reading more work from this talented author, Paulette Mahurin.