As you might deduce from the title this is no light-hearted romance. Set in a small town in Nevada USA at the time of Oscar Wilde’s trial and imprisonment for ‘acts of gross indecency’ the story reflects the narrow-minded thinking of the time.
I was expecting something heavy-going and weighty. Instead I found a beautifully written story of intolerance and courage, hate and love, fear and triumph, death and life, and in no small way meanness and friendship.
Mildred Dunlap is the wealthy woman in town, the wealth inherited from her father. She’s generous to everyone less fortunate. She’s also a spinster, plain and lives with her younger cousin Edra. Lives with her in every sense of the word. The mean-spirited in town envy her the wealth and despise her for her ‘manliness’. They look for ways to bring her down.
I found myself not wanting to put this one aside to do the chores. The language is gentle and lovely, a little formal by today’s standards, evocative of the writing style of the time in which it’s set. But that suits the story to the ground.
The characters and story come to life under Mahurin’s sure handling of the subject.