Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap Review


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.

Since I'm not the type of girl to dance around a point, I'm going to come right out and say that the main character is a lesbian. I understand that might be enough to turn some readers off, but it does make for an interesting read.

This book paints a vivid picture of the turmoil faced by gays and lesbians in the 19th century. I enjoy how the story is set against the back drop of Oscar Wilde's trial. The fact that these are issues still prevalent today makes this a relevant read. While being gay or lesbian (or actively practicing the lifestyle) is not illegal these days, there is still much controversy surrounding such individuals. i.e. (gay marriage).

I'm going to avoid being preachy on such subjects whether one way or another, I'm merely stating it's an ongoing issue. 

Now for nitpicking the book. The actual reason for the review right?
  • One thing to say against the book is that there are typos, mostly the spelling of characters' names flip flopping. Independent authors: Thoroughly line edit! And once you think you have it perfect, have others help you line edit!
  • One thing that was well done in the book was the setup of how physically unappealing Mildred is, yet she is loved by characters who are physically beautiful. This contrast stands as a testament to her good character, which is important when set against the persecution she receives.   
  • Honestly I had some trouble connecting with the characters. All of the description was there to explain why things were the way they were, but I didn't feel anything from them.
  • I rather enjoyed the Oscar Wilde quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I know that in particular really says nothing about the story itself. More it just states that I enjoy Oscar Wilde, but it is a nice addition to the overall presentation of the book.
In Summery: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap serves as an interesting essay on the power of gossip and preset notions. It takes the issues of what people should be allowed in the privacy of their own homes head on, and addresses prejudice on many levels. Not only is the gay/lesbian debacle present, but also issues of race, status, religion and physical appearances. There's certainly thought provoking material in here, but don't expect dynamic characters and ripping scenes. The people and events are plain, which adds to the simplicity of the story being told. 

As always, the best way to know if you're going to like the book is to read it!

Leave me some opinions in the comment area! 

About the author:
Paulette Mahurin, an award-winning 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.

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