The year is 1895; the place is a small town in Nevada. Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian and she lives with her partner, Edra.
Mahurin introduces her story using Oscar Wilde as the example as he was persecuted for being a homosexual in 1895. It is Wilde’s conviction that gets this small town to vocalize their ignorance. We get to experience the townspeople’s intolerance; prejudice, hatred, and bigotry. Mildred must endure this hell whenever she goes into town.
Mahurin is a genius developing her characters. Mildred should be a bitter, hateful woman but she is the opposite. She is a compassionate, tolerant, and loving human being. Even with her community hating her for her physical looks and her wealth, she still helps out the needy including the ones who hate her most.
Her partner, Edra, is a perfect companion and lover for Mildred. It makes the reader cringe to see how they had to live in this town full of hate.
The townspeople characters consist of nosy, stuck-up, ignorant, busy bodies that make up stories and gossip about Mildred’s life. The husbands don’t condone their behavior, they just ignore it.
Mildred does make a friend, a male friend, and Edra finally embraces the friendship. The story ends well enough, but the town has a long way to go, as do many towns today. I think this may have been the reason for writing the book.
As readers of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, we are left to evaluate our own beliefs. We need to think about changing the opinions of 1895 and be more tolerant in 2012.
I recommend this beautifully written book for readers of all ages.