Note: I received from the author a free e-book copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Here it is.
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Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 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 by the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
“One can survive everything nowadays,
except death, and live down everything
except a good reputation.” Oscar Wilde
And after this quote, the story starts.
I started reading it last night, about 1 am, and I couldn’t stop reading it until my eyes were hurting because I was too tired and sleepy. Today after lunch I opened it again and couldn’t stop until I was finished. I read it in less than 24 hours, which is a record for me when reading a digital book, but I just couldn’t stop. I needed to know what was going to happen next.
I think Oscar Wilde’s quotes we read along the book, in the beginning of each chapter, were really well chosen, perfect really.
Telling a story about a time in the past, we can read about prejudice and reputation, hate and love, friendship and love; but this book doesn’t only talk about the past: we can read about issues that still happen and matter nowadays.
It’s a book that makes the reader think about all the stereotypes created by society. Sometimes, even without noticing it, the reader is encouraged and challenged to think about his or hers own ideas of right and wrong, good and bad.
The writing is marvelous. I love the descriptions of the environment that surrounds the characters and the way we get to know them. The writing is easy to read, and at the same time makes us feel interested.
The characters are really well developed. You can identify with some aspects of the characters, you can see people you know in the characters. They could be your neighbors, the people you see on the streets, the people on the bus, because they are so real.
Some of the characters, with their ideas and comments, really annoyed me… and that’s good! It means the book touched me, moved me inside.
I read this book in the computer, and I was kind of afraid because I’m used to read paperbacks and I thought the reading would be slow and difficult (not because of the book; the book seemed really interesting to me from the beginning. But because I had to make an effort to read it on the computer). But once I started reading it, I hardly could stop.
The main character is Mildred, a woman with masculine appearance, who isn’t pretty and is a target of people’s gossips. She lives with Edra, her beautiful an feminine cousin, with who she has a special relationship.
As a person, but also as a nurse, there was something that touched me in the beginning of the book, when we read about Charley for the first time. What he said about his wife, that he didn’t want her to be in peace, he only wanted her to be there with him again, like before, like always… I hear people saying this. Death is a difficult thing to deal with. And what he did with his wife’s body, it can happen. It’s sad, I know; maybe even wrong, I don’t want to put this in those terms but everyone has the right to think that way. But we read about it in the newspaper (I can perfectly remember it happening once or twice not long ago here in Portugal).
There’s something about Edra’s past (you have to read the book to know what it is) that made me feel angry. It’s something that still happens a lot nowadays and something that every woman is afraid of. What happened to her had a big impact in her relationships, as we can read in the book and understand by the way her character was built. I could write lots of things about this, but I don’t want to. I want you to think about it if you read the book.
Max Dunlap and the way he sees Mildred’s and Edra’s relationship is a really amazing detail to the story: just the way a father (or a mother) who is a bit alert to his daughter’s would think.
And all the gossips around everything, isn’t it real too? We can see how everything starts, how people in the book are sometimes anxious to start talking, to judge other people, and how it can mess with someone else’s life.
Also Mildred’s plan that included Charley and then the way their relationship develop, as well as the relationship with Edra and Charley is quite interesting and I think it was a really good idea considering the time the story takes place. Charley isn’t the man Mildred thinks he his and the plan goes wrong. Edra’s attitude towards him, rushing him to leave on his first visit to their house, is the attitude some of us would have if we were in her place. Charley’s doubts and thought and actions towards Mildred’s silence are also very real and I felt kind of pity for him. But Edra starts to understand Charley is a friend and as she starts to free herself from her insecurities about him, we can understand a growing friendship between Edra, Mildred and Charley.
There are lots of things this book talks about that I could write about here, some other characters I could talk about, but I’m not going to. These are some of the things that caught my attention most of the time, the characters I liked the most, and that’s why I decided to be more specific about them. Also Oscar Wilde’s story line is also very interesting, as well as what the characters of the book thought about what happened to him. This is a book that can describe society really well, not only the society of the past but also the society of nowadays.
I loved the ending. I had that feeling of “everything turned out well”.
I don’t know if everything I wrote can express the real ideas of the author when she wrote the story. This is a result of my own meditation about each chapter of the book.
I can’t tell you much more, or I’ll ruin the story. You should read it!
For me, it’s a book that I know I’ll read again.
I don’t know if all of you will agree with what I think about the book. The truth is that this book talks about subjects that interest me, issues that should be target of reflection and meditation, and this is why I think it is so perfect. It talks about subjects that really matter. A book that made me feel so many emotions in so little time has to be really good.
I have to congratulate the author, Paulette. Thank you for emailing me and giving me the experience of reading this book.
Okay, I’m going to stop writing about the book now… This review is for sure one of the longest ones I wrote. I felt that I had to be really specific on my opinion about this book (and to be honest I took some notes while reading it so I wouldn’t forget to write about everything I wanted), and apparently I got carried away. But I can’t change anything I wrote, so… I’ll post it the way it is.
About Paulette Mahurin, the author (from Goodreads)
Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs, including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.
All profits from her book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Center, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA.
Buy a book. Save a life.
All Profits Go To Animal Rescue: The first and only no kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA. where the author lives, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center.
PRESS ARTICLE: VC STAR Sept. 9, 2012 Sunday Life Section: click here to read it.