Published march 2012
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 offence. 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.
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I was asked by the writer to review this book and checked the details on Amazon. It has been reviewed 150 times, mostly five star and some four, three and two stars, so I was looking forward to reading this book but keeping in mind that sometimes some things look too good to be true.
I can now honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and happily give it four stars.
The story is set in a small town in 1895, but relates very well to the problems that still remain today about prejudices and hatred and small mindedness. Oscar Wilde’s behaviour and imprisonment that year had an indirect, but major impact on this small town.
The story touches on ignorance, hatred, gay relationships, anti-Semitism, bullying and much more. The pace is fast and the tension built up over the possible exposure of Mildred and Edra’s relationship, and the probable consequences, makes this a real compulsive read.
The characters are rich and really make this a great story.
Edra was victim of a rape in her childhood and this has an impact on the rest of her life and relationships. The writer puts this much better,
‘……the trauma held in her cells from the brutal rape.’
Then we have poor Helen abused by her father, and this also influences her relationships and reactions to stress. Josie, who has her own difficult background, and the clutch of gossipers who cause havoc out of words overheard and stories made up, if they don’t have the truth. Gus is another important character with his family secrets and his books and wisdom. And of course, Mildred, large, plain, much maligned but still able to give love friendship and financial help to others. She is intuitive and empathetic: In response to Edra’s fears,
… ‘She caught her response like an infection in her chest.’ a really good use of language, with also some real gems like ‘peccant’ (as if guilty of a moral offence, i.e. smiled peccantly)
There is Frank, the newly bereaved, who is slowly questioning his beliefs and values with the guidance of his friends.
The writing is concise. There are no wasted words or rambling passages to pad out the plot which makes this a very comfortable read.
Why only four stars, well some of the story seemed rushed and one or two of the characters seemed overdone, but on balance, a very good book.