Happy Tuesday everyone! I read some AMAZING books this week and I can’t wait to tell you about them.
In the early 1900’s members of the Osage Indian nation, living in Oklahoma, became very wealthy when oil was discovered and mined on their land. Not long afterwards, however, many members of this tribe began dying in suspicious circumstances. Due to tremendous corruption in law enforcement at the time, at least 24 murders remained unsolved until the fledgling FBI stepped in to solve these crimes.
This is non-fiction that reads like fiction. The author’s writing style has something to do with that, but it’s also because it’s so hard to believe that these poor people were being killed off and nothing was being done about it. I felt like I was reading a wild west story, but when it was over, I was left with the unsettling knowledge that these events actually occurred. The older I get, the more I realize that so much was left out of the history lessons I learned in school, which is why books like this one are so important.
During the Civil War, Major Hockaday returns home on leave to find that his wife has died and his infant son is sick. He finds a new wife, seventeen year old Placidia, and after just two days of marriage has to return to the war. When he finally returns two years later, rumors abound about his wife. She has given birth to a child who cannot be his, and that child has died. Placidia refuses to name the father, or discuss what happened to the baby who is now buried on their farm.
Placidia’s story is told through letters and diary entries, which is a great structure for this novel. It was far more interesting that just a straightforward telling of the events. We learn about what happened to Placidia in bits and pieces and this historical fiction novel takes on the air of a work of suspense. I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction lately, and this book reminded me of why I love the genre so much.
It’s 1904, and Dulcy’s father has just returned to Seattle from a business trip, where he made a huge profit from selling African mines. There’s only one problem – he hasn’t brought any of the money back with him, and now he’s ill and seems unable to remember where he put the money. His business partner, Victor, who was once Dulcy’s fiance, asks her to come out to Seattle to take care of her father and try to figure out where the money went. Things go wrong, and Dulcy finds herself running away from Victor. She fakes her own death and winds up in a small Montana town, creating a new identity for herself. As she tries to build a new life as the widow Nash, Dulcy is constantly looking over her shoulder, wondering if Victor is coming after her.
This book is part historical fiction, part thriller, part mystery. The characters that Dulcy meets in Livingston, Montana are so fun and quirky that you want to be friends with them yourself. The author writes about each place in the book – Livingston, Seattle, New York, various countries that Dulcy and her father traveled to – with such detail that I could easily picture the place. In spite of that detail, the book is a page turner, and you’ll be kept guessing until the very end as to where that money went.
Leia has a lot going on. She’s thirty-eight, single, a successful comic book writer, when a one night stand with Batman at a comic book convention leaves her pregnant. While she’s figuring out how to tel her southern family that she’s pregnant with a bi-racial child, she gets a call that her elderly grandmother, the matriarch of Birchville, Alabama, is suffering from dementia and needs her help. Meanwhile, Leia’s perfect step sister is having a crisis of her own; her husband has left her. Leia takes her 13 year old niece with her down to Birchvile to sort out her grandmother and that’s where the story really begins.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Joshilyn Jackson, but it won’t be the last. Her portrait of the south, and particularly this small town, is fascinating and she deals with major issues like racism in a very readable way. I loved the characters she created, and loved to hate some of them! The plot of a comic book that Leia created is interspersed throughout the book, which was an interesting way of giving insight to Leia’s inner thoughts and feelings. I love books that hold on to some of their secrets until the end, and this is a great example of that. The theme of sisters – whether biological or sisters by choice, runs throughout the story and is just one of the many complex relationships Leia, like most of us, deals with. If you’re a fan of family dramas or books set in the south, this one’s for you.
This books comes out July 11th; you can pre-order it now.
That’s all for this week. I’d love to hear what you’re reading; please leave me some recommendations in the comments! Happy reading!