About the book:
Mildred Dunlap is a rich woman living on a ranch just outside a small town in Nevada. She arrives in town just in time to hear all the excitement over a recently arrived telegram; telegrams are the way the town gets news of the outside world. It is this telegram that leads to the fracturing of Mildred’s life.
Gossiping never stops in a little town and the new focus of this gossip is Oscar Wilde. Realizing the danger all this new talk can bring, Mildred forms a plan to keep the town’s people at bay. But this plan, involving a recent widower named Charley, might be more harmful than helpful. Especially with gossip and self-appointed town matriarch, Josie, chasing an unrealistic hatred of Mildred. Josie is determined to find out what secrets Mildred is hiding at her ranch. That hatred blinds Josie to the high costs others are forced to pay for her foolishness.
First, I truly liked this book. In fact, I liked it so well, I bought my mother a paperback copy of it!
This straightforward tale about the pain others can cause through hatred and bigotry is cleanly written in an appealing style. Though the book involves homosexuality, it is not the crux in this timeless tale as the ‘secret’ could be anything from a child born out of wedlock to hidden goldmine. Instead, it is a tale of what gossip and hatred can do to not only those directly involved but to everyone on the edges.
Mahurin does a splendid job of creating clear images without an overabundance of words. The motives of her main character are understandable and Mildred’s stubbornness when things start to fall apart blend together to form an interesting personality. Josie’s dogged pursuit of Mildred will remind many of Gladys Kravitz, but with a mean streak.
Although Mahurin “wastes no words” style is one of the appealing things about this book, I do wish she would have fleshed out the two brokers and the background of that particular scene a bit more.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this tale. Anyone who likes fast-paced, quick, clean reads with plenty of humanity should enjoy this story
Let me start off by saying that historical fiction isn’t a genre I normally read much of as I find that at times the stories can be dry and more focused on the history than the story. In this case, it was reversed and I was pleasantly surprised.
There are a lot of historical events incorporated into this novel, like Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, sovereignty issues, and racism. They are incorporated in such a natural way that you are immediately drawn into the story.
The story focuses on two women, Edra, and Mildred, who are cousins. They are also lovers. After hearing of the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for gross indecency, they begin to fear that the true nature of their relationship will be discovered and they will have to suffer the consequences of hateful prejudice. Mildred comes up with a plan to divert the towns attention from them, and begins courting a man named Charley, who has just lost his wife to illness.
Aside from the secret of Edra and Mildred’s relationship, there is a lot of animosity toward Mildred, as she is very wealthy and has a hold in many of the major aspects of the town. There are many women who are jealous of her money, and put her down by talking about her looks and mannerisms.
The characters in this novel are all very realistic and approachable. It’s very easy to be drawn in to their world. As you read, you find that they all have their own secrets to hide. This paints a somewhat bleak (on the part of the general population of the town) picture of the closed mindedness of the time.
Mildred and Edna’s relationship is very sweet, and very simply portrayed. You can see how much they care for one another in the way that they speak to each other and always have each other’s best interests at heart. They find it difficult to let people into their lives but they manage to let a few select people in who are very trustworthy.
One thing that I really enjoyed were the Oscar Wilde quotes at the beginning of the chapters. They were all relevant and fitting to the chapters themselves. There are also numerous mentions of several classic books. You have to love when an author can incorporate other great books into their work. I learned a lot about Oscar Wilde from reading this novel. Many of his quotes resonated with me, just because they are such common sense, and yet still so true.
Some of the plot points are easy to guess at, but you won’t really mind because the rest of the story is easy to get swept up in.
This is a simple, yet powerful story about family, love, friendship and what it means to truly trust and care for those around you. I would recommend this to anyone who’s hesitant to read historical fiction because it will pull you right in.
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*