The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap: Paulette Mahurin *Review and Giveaway*
Posted by honeysempai1
A women’s Brokeback Mountain. The year was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; the United States expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in South America; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When 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 the Wilde news. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
“The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap” uses two well-known scandals of 1895 to start off and move along the plot of our protagonists. It is an interesting and skilfully executed set-up, followed by an equally brilliant illustration of how the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde and the anti-Semitism shown in the Dreyfus Affair in France could have been received in a remote and isolated location such as a small town in Nevada.
Each chapter is accompanied by a quotation from Oscar Wilde’s work. I am not usually a fan of poetry and themes used as headings, but the author has chosen them appropriately and very well.
The description of the setting succeeds effortlessly with just enough detail to make it easy for us to imagine we are there with the heroes, but without overloading us with description that gets in the way of the plot. The portrayal of the times seems also very authentic and the dialogue is also very realistic and flows easily.
The way the characters interact with each other is simply brilliantly done and gives the book a lively feeling. The story is much more complex and involved than the beginning and the book title seemed to imply to me – which made this an unpredictable and compulsice reading experience.
The book is an illustration of hate, intolerance and gossip in a small community and is kind and politically correct in its message. At a time when Gay Marriage proposals are being voted on all over the world and homophobia comes back into the spotlight of media attention this story is reminiscent of many of our current arguments.
At first I found it unbelievable and off-putting that some of the characters would – at that time in history – have the understanding and tolerance as the author attributes to them. Then I realized that the same ancient prejudiced views that haunt our Mildred in the book are still around in 2012.
The book is a great piece of work on human nature and I will be recommending it to my friends.