by Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley is an adventurous writer. She has retold Shakespeare’s King Lear in her novel, A Thousand Acres, and had talking animals in Perestroika in Paris. In this newest book, she again takes on interesting and unusual characters during the Gold Rush.
Young Eliza was married off by her parents to an older man whom they found to be respectable…if only! Not long thereafter, Eliza finds herself in California as a widow when her husband is killed in a fight. She does not want to go back to her small minded parents but instead finds a unique business opportunity. Eliza takes a job in a well run brothel. When women that she knows begin to disappear, Eliza and the brothel owner investigate. The book unfurls slowly as they figure things out.
A content warning: Some readers may not like some of the ways in which sex is discussed. Nothing too concerning but if a reader is very straitlaced, they may feel that this is objectionable.
Publishers Weekly gave this title a starred review and called it a “seductive entertainment.” I don’t quite agree. I did not absolutely love this one much as I wanted to.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for this title. All opinions are my own.
Pub date: 06 December 2022