An artistic, sympathetic imagining of the life of a 19th-century woman who made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Silver Baron's Wife

A historical novel that draws on the real life of Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor, the second wife of a Colorado silver baron.

Raised in the mid-1800s as a Catholic, Lizzie McCourt commits the first of many indiscretions in her life by marrying a Protestant man, Harvey Doe. After a brief marriage, his erratic temperament and addiction to morphine, alcohol, and brothels leads Lizzie to file for divorce—a rare practice at the time, thought by many to be immoral, no matter the justification. This brings shame upon her family and forces her to leave the church. After finding a job at a Colorado silver mine, she promptly falls for Horace Tabor, a wealthy business owner who happens to be significantly older—and already married. She finds love and companionship with him, although the circumstances surrounding their union only leads to further scandal in their small, pious town. Baier Stein (Sympathetic People, 2013, etc.) artfully intertwines her story with some of the real-life Lizzie’s own journal writings, and the author pays tribute to her protagonist by emulating and maintaining the tone of these entries. In doing so, she authentically constructs a complex, compassionate character whose actions readers will support and celebrate. Lizzie’s choices, especially when she ends a doomed marriage, help to show her as a woman who was ahead of her time and worthy of admiration. The book is well-researched in every facet, from its antiquated yet very readable language to its geographical and historical accuracy. Although Baier Stein glosses over some of Lizzie’s inner turmoil, she still shows her to be deliberate in her actions, reflective, and unapologetic. However, although the majority of the narrative is well-paced and engaging, some resolutions seemed rushed.

An artistic, sympathetic imagining of the life of a 19th-century woman who made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971010-6-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Serving House Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2016

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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