A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley – #BookReview – #historicalmysteries – @knopf

Book Blurb:

From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author of A Thousand Acres: a rollicking murder mystery set in Gold Rush California, as two young prostitutes follow a trail of missing girls.

A Dangerous Business by Jane SmileyMonterey, 1851. Ever since her husband was killed in a bar fight, Eliza Ripple has been working in a brothel. It seems like a better life, at least at first. The madam, Mrs. Parks, is kind, the men are (relatively) well behaved, and Eliza has attained what few women have: financial security. But when the dead bodies of young women start appearing outside of town, a darkness descends that she can’t resist confronting. Side by side with her friend Jean, and inspired by her reading, especially by Edgar Allan Poe’s detective Dupin, Eliza pieces together an array of clues to try to catch the killer, all the while juggling clients who begin to seem more and more suspicious.

Eliza and Jean are determined not just to survive, but to find their way in a lawless town on the fringes of the Wild West—a bewitching combination of beauty and danger—as what will become the Civil War looms on the horizon.

As Mrs. Parks says, “Everyone knows that this is a dangerous business, but between you and me, being a woman is a dangerous business, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise …”

His Review:

Eliza Ripple was getting old for a young lady of marriageable age. She was nearly 18 and her parents feared she would not get married so they arranged for her to marry a man nearly twice her age and she was gone from the household. Her husband worked in the lumber industry in Kalamazoo, Mi. The lumber industry was very dangerous and he was killed within two years of her marriage. She was not unhappy about this because he had been physically abusive and very ridged with her. At last, she was free!

A Dangerous Business by Jane SmileyShe moved to Monterey, California, and with little skills was hired as a lady of the evening. Her fee was a dollar per trick and this provided her funds for room and the ability to buy food. Being a hooker in Monterey in the mid-1800s was a risky business and the madam kept a man at the house. Carlos kept his eye on all of the girls and threw out the men who were abusive.

Monterey was the leading seaport at that time. The entrance through the Golden Gate in San Francisco was not developed and the sailors preferred the port of Monterey. All is going fairly well but suddenly Eliza and her friend find a body in one of the arroyos with a creek leading to the ocean. The sheriff of Monterey seems to care less for the plight of the murdered young woman. As time goes on more bodies of young women are found in the area.

CE WilliamsJane Smiley develops a very sympathetic character in Eliza and her companion. The small port of Monterey has five or six brothels and law enforcement does not even pursue the killings. The young prostitutes are not worth investigating. Reading this book, I immediately commiserated with the plight of the girls. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters and the overall result of the plot. Even the horses and other animals were developed into key elements of the story. A fun and entertaining tale! 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

 

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Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Knopf

  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525520333
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525520337

ASIN: B09TZT8F9P
Print Length: 224 pages
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Dangerous Business [Amazon]

Jane Smiley - authorThe Author: Jane Smiley (born September 26, 1949) is an American novelist. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992 for her novel A Thousand Acres (1991). Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from Community School and from John Burroughs School. She obtained a BA in literature at Vassar College (1971), then earned an MA (1975), MFA (1976), and PhD (1978) from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996 she was a Professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops, and continuing to teach there even after relocating to California.

Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Have a great weekend!

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout – #BookReview – #contemporaryliteraryfiction @RandomHouse

#1 Best Seller in Contemporary Literature Fiction

Book Blurb:

With her trademark spare, crystalline prose—a voice infused with “intimate, fragile, desperate humanness” (The Washington Post)—Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic.

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth StroutAs a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart—the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

His Review:

Can a loveless abusive childhood lay the cobblestones of life’s road in such a way that nothing changes for the individual? Elizabeth Strout’s character Lucy seems to have developed her character with this pattern in mind. Lucy’s mother was negative and abusive and she grew up defending herself by developing a mother in her own mind that she called her “good mother.”  Her good mother was always caring and lent supportive encouragement to everything she did.

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth StroutLucy’s first husband William is a supportive man, a scientist, with a compassionate heart and protective attitude. With the advent of the Covid Pandemic, he encourages Lucy and him to escape to the clean air and trade winds upon a rocky point in Maine. The weather is always colder, the wind always blowing and the days less predictable. They have escaped New York City to become isolated in a desolate prison of their own making. How could she be happy in this desolation?

William and Lucy do not live together. His affairs early in their marriage had driven a wedge between them that could not easily be withdrawn. They shared a house but with separate bedrooms and an uneasy truce. All conversations are delicately planned which avoids the obvious elephant in the room. His marriage betrayal and additional indiscretions had led her to spread her own affair wings.

Elizabeth Strout is a very gifted writer who did not leave the central theme of her story throughout the read. She develops a character who is hell-bent on being unhappy throughout her life. This centralized dogma thoroughly confounded me as a reader. I have never read such a singularly minded character before. Lucy cannot accept any real progress or happiness in her life although she did have a happy second marriage with a man named David. But he died which added to her misery.

CE WilliamsCould anyone ever complete her as David had seemed to do? Her daughters grew up leading fairly accomplished lives but tended to avoid their mother. The reason was the negative aura surrounding her. Life becomes extremely tedious when every day seems to add more misery to an already dark existence. I kept having the beginning of that old Buck Owens song ring in my mind! “Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery…” I believe Elizabeth Strout has developed a very dark and sensitive heroine confronting a noir-esque setting. 3.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

 

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Book Details:

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Literary Sagas, Saga Fiction
Publisher: Random House
ASIN: B09VWWN5BJ
Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Lucy by the Sea [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Elizabeth Strout - authorThe Author: Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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