Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paulette Mahurin Provides Excellent Debut Novel!

I love the cover of this novel by Paulette Mahurin, don't you? It perfectly sets the approximate period of time and allows us to better envision the cast of characters...and what a cast...

Please travel with me back to 1895 into a small town in Nevada. The first thing I learned was that world news was delivered by telegraph and posted centrally to be read by citizens.
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.
This poignant story is sad and yet beautiful... Mahurin has put it all right out there in her debut novel--all of the internal feelings in the world that are used to either love and support others or to destroy and hurt. It comes to mind that, in many ways, if the clothes on the cover were updated to the present and some of today's headlines replaced those for that year, that in many parts of the country, this story could easily hone in on what still happens in America. Perhaps that is why the author chose this as her topic? For whatever reason, his historical-looking novel is just as important, timely and relevant today as it was in 1895!

One of the significant additions I especially enjoyed was relevant quotes at the beginning of each chapter by Oscar Wilde. Although he appears in the novel only through news releases, he soon becomes the main individual around which...the gossip begins...

The Gossiper 
by Jean DeBuffet
"In contrast to Mildred, Josie thrived 
on being the center of attention.
Outside of them both being women, 
there was absolutely no similarity 
in appearance between the two. 
Whereas Mildred was a large woman with
 a face masculine in appearance, 
Josie was pretty in a feminine way with
 curved lips and eyebrows that accentuated 
her blue-green eyes and overly
 dilated pupils seeming always to be alert
 like an animal stalking prey. 
Were Josie to have a different personality
 or attitude she could be beautiful, 
like Edra, but her demeanor was so distasteful
 with constant faultfinding in others
 that it cast a dark ugliness over her.
 The mere comparison of Edra to Josie,
 for Mildred, was like comparing good with evil, 
beauty with ugliness, complete opposites 
that had nothing desirable in common."
/object.aspx?ObjectID=21. .

Every town, every church, every organization seems to have at least one--she feels it is her responsibility to pinpoint issues of major importance--to be discussed, embellished, passed on, and regurgitated again and again. She also normally has an entourage who are not quite so bold, but who are quite willing to pass on the latest as presented by that woman--the town gossip! I cringe at the potential damage done by this type of woman. I must say that this author has "nailed" her perfectly and I enjoyed very much hating her and wanting her to be...
punished... Did you ever notice that America has a tendency to send such an offender away, rather than dealing with the situation? Nevertheless, the ending was appropriate, for that time...

Mildred Dunlap was the recipient of emotional abuse from this woman since she was a small child... But it had affected her greatly even if she never responded or shared her feelings. Mildred was now a wealthy woman who had inherited much from her father. She quietly used that wealth to help many people in that small town, but she was still hated by some and always someone who the town gossip included whenever she could.

But the latest news about Oscar Wilde had caused her great fear, for she knew that it would result in much discussion about why he had been arrested.

She immediately began to plan how to protect herself and her cousin, Edra, who, after being sexually abused at an early age, lived in fear thereafter, and had ultimately turned to Mildred for the love she needed...

She (and I) both wondered what would have happened if she had never started, but it was too late...

A local woman had died after a long illness, and as it was normal for neighbors to be visiting the home, helping when they could, Mildred decided that she should let him know she was interested... Edra was not happy about her plan...

Mildred thought this would be safe, thinking that he would never consider her seriously because of her own looks! It is impossible to merely tell you what happened in that little town, mostly when Josie opened her mouth!
But, there were also good people in that town...and they simply began to act as they felt they should...

Intense, disturbing, I found myself totally immersed in concern for Mildred and Edra. But I also had great empathy for Gus, a man who ran the local store, who had hidden the truth his entire life, by simply showing another person to the world. We are all so different from each other. Paulette Mahurin shows us, however, that we are all so very much alike! There is much to learn through her story if we open our hearts to what is said.

May this book be read widely and Mahurin's story be recognized for what it says to each of us--all of us!

And just an added note for the present lives we live...That gossiper is easily talking to many more these days. Please watch what you say on whatever social network you join...

Mahurin certainly "shows, not tells" us as this wonderful writer has easily entered into her character's true nature and captured what drives each to do what we choose. Listen and learn and perhaps we can all work to stop the persecution of one of today's citizens named "Mildred Dunlap"! Bullies are alive and well in 2012... History fans will enjoy the context and setting, but this drama deserves far-reading attention. Kudos to the author!


Paulette Mahurin is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their three dogs—Eli, Max, and Bella. She practices women’s health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time.

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  1. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this most wonderful, thoughtful and beautifully written review. I shall never forget it, nor your kindness in helping a new kid on the block, to spread the word in the name of tolerance.

  2. I am so looking forward to reading this!