Review: Displays The Offensive Side Of Human Nature Without Glossing It Over…Brutally Blunt In Some Respects, Yet One Of Hope.

Darlene Williams
1895. Oscar Wilde has just been convicted in England of committing acts of gross indecency and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Small town Red River Pass, Nevada, is captivated by this news and talks of nothing else.”Two men together?” Josie Purdue raised her voice above the crowd, drawing a hush and attention to her. “More like five! All his past lovers came forth. Shows what an ungodly lot they all are. He deserves what he got. Throw away the key, that’s what I say. Those kinds don’t deserve to walk the face of the earth.”

This prevailing sentiment and a past suspected incident of two male lovers fuels the fire.

Mildred Dunlap was bequeathed a substantial fortune when her father passed away but, unfortunately, she was not bestowed femininity. She is 6 feet tall, her hairline is receding, she has hair on her upper lip and an ungainly figure. Her money and lack of beauty are already hot topics amongst the local women, who deliberately shun her. Mildred is extremely benevolent with her money, often assisting townsfolk in time of need. Her generosity is ignored by the women, who would much rather focus on her shortcomings (in their eyes).

Mildred lives on her somewhat isolated farm in seclusion with her cousin, Edra, a stunning beauty, who is traumatized by a terrible event early in life. Mildred and Edra are in a relationship and live as a couple. They are careful to keep this secret, not allowing their few visitors to discover there is only one bed in the house.

Charley has just the lost love of his life. He is a man bereaved and inconsolable. Mildred, desperate to keep nosey people from making assumptions in the wake of the Wilde furor, strikes up a friendship with Charley to divert the town’s attention. She is confident Charley will never see her a romantic light so there’s no danger. Edra, on the other hand, is not quite so secure and is jealous of Mildred and Charley’s relationship.

Just as Mildred supposed, soon the women are scandalized. They talk of nothing but her and Charley, speculating on the nature of their relationship. They make it their business to get the truth of the matter. Several menfolk are disgusted with their wives’ snooping, but few try to put their foot down to stop it. It ends with tragic consequences.

All the while, the extreme prejudices of the times and small towns are evidenced by hatred of Jews and blacks. News reports of calamities befalling Jews and blacks are cause for joy and reiteration of “Can’t trust those kind…Should know his place.”

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is not so much about her relationship with Edra, as it about bigotry in all its ugly forms. The discovery of Mildred and Edra’s relationship would be disastrous or would it? It really depends on who finds out.

This novel displays the offensive side of human nature without glossing it over, how life events affect thought patterns, building friendships, transformations and acceptance. It is a brutally blunt novel in some respects, yet one of hope. (less)


About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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