Fans of Diamant's The Red Tent who were disappointed by her sophomore effort (Good Harbor) will be happy to find her back on historical turf in her latest, set in early 1800s Massachusetts. Inspired by the settlement of Dogtown, Diamant reimagines the community of castoffswidows, prostitutes, orphans, African-Americans and ne'er-do-wellsall eking out a harsh living in the barren terrain of Cape Ann. Black Ruth, the African woman who dresses like a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, who runs the local brothel, and Judy Rhines, an unmarried white woman whose lover Cornelius is a freed slave, are among Dogtown's inhabitants who are considered suspecteven witchesby outsiders. Shifting perspectives among the various residents (including the settlement's dogs, who provide comfort to the lonely), Diamant brings the period alive with domestic details and movingly evokes the surprising bonds the outcasts form in their dying days. This chronicle of a dwindling community strikes a consistently melancholy tonereaders in search of happy endings won't find any herebut Diamant renders these forgotten lives with imagination and sensitivity.
My husband and I just finished listening to this book on a trip and we both agree it was fabulous. I read The Red Tent also, and I liked this even better. It is written like a series of short stories told in chronological order over 20 or more years and featuring a core cast of characters. At first, it was a little hard to keep all the characters straight..if it had been a book, I would have been turning back to check names, but we soon got to know everyone and really got caught up in their lives. The story takes place in the early 1800's and is interesting both historically and for the personalities and experiences of the characters. Another plus for travelling, it was really long, 9.5 hours, and so we covered a lot of ground while listening. Also, the narrator does an excellent job.
Another excellent book from the author of The Red Tent! I love Diamant's writing style and she's wonderful at capturing the feel of different time periods. I loved this book (although Red Tent will always be my favorite).
Not as good as The Red Tent but a good book all the same. Diamant is a terrific writer and makes me care about all her characters.
Great read. Borders on chick lit.