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).
Great read. Borders on chick lit.
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.
An engaging array of characters you grow to care about in this absorbing novel. Diamant is a fantastic story teller and keeps you turning "just one more page" till late into the night. Really enjoyed this book!
Very enjoyable! I was disappointed with "Good Harbor" but this really redeemed her!!
In order for me to enjoy a book, I have to LIKE at least some (if not most) of the characters. That was definitely the case in this book. I got to "know" and care about them and their interwoven stories. It started just a tad slow, but by the end of the first CD, I was hooked! The reader is excellent as well. Very different from Diamant's Red Tent, but equally good.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I live in Massachusetts and could relate to the area where the story takes place. The characters were well developed and I was sorry to see the book end. I highly recommend it.
Early 19th century New England. Lots of really interesting characters. Quick read. I enjoyed it.
I liked it. At first I did not think I would but stick with it - it is worth it.
I loved this book. This is not my usual genre but when the author paints her charachters they are full blown, alive and the setting and the feeling of the time in history ring true! It is taking a scrap from history and making a story out of whole cloth! great read.
A beautiful slow pace drew me into this book until I loved the characters. I was disappointed when they died, and happy when they succeeded. The ending was realistic although disappointing. I look forward to reading more works by Anita Diamant as I enjoyed her writing style
An interesting though sad read--- a story of the assorted misfits and hermits living in the remains of a small Massachusetts village on Cape Ann near Gloucester only 50 miles from Boston in the early 1800's, diminished in reputation to the point of being called "Dogtown" after the pack of wild though not vicious dogs that call the area home. Deals with black-white relations, the whisper of "witchcraft", and ladies of the night as each character's story is revealed. This loosely bound collection of "witches", free Africans, sinners, orphans, and widows live out their mediocre lives in ramshackle houses amid hardscrabble gardens until slowly one by one they either die or move on to respectable paying jobs in Gloucester.
This is a superb historical novel about the end of a tiny village on the high ground in the heart of Cape Ann. The place is peopled by characters such as Black Ruth, who dresses like a man. Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam, and her grandson, Sammy, who comes of age in the brothel. Oliver Younger, who survives his childhood at the hands of his mean hearted aunt. The main character, Judy Rhines, is the heart and soul of Dogtown. She's fiercly independent yet heartbreakingly lonely. She is the victim of a doomed relationship with the freed slave, Cornelius Finson. This is a stunning novel that tells of the power of love and compassion in this windswept and barren landscape. A beautiful read.
The book is very slow, but the story is touching. I enjoyed the book very much.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is absolutely one of my very favorite books of all time. I got her other books simply because of that. This book, The Last Days of Dogtown, is one of the worst books I've ever read. I kept reading, thinking it had to get better. It did not, for me anyways. I'm still willing to give Anita Diamant a shot, so I'm on to her next book, Good Harbor, hoping for a better read!
Being a huge fan of "The Red Tent," I was expecting to totally love this book. I did not find it nearly as engaging as some of Diamant's other work. Still, it's worth the read.
Another gem by Diamant, in my opinion. I wanted the stories to keep going. This would make a great movie! Wonderful characters. And each had their own unique story, masterfully woven together.
I won't go into what the story line is.Plenty of others have, with great skill, done that. But I disagree with the reviewer who claimed the writing to be disjointed and difficult to put up with. I found the author's style very readable and intriguing. Her descriptions of winter on the south shore of Massachusetts, specifically in the Gloucester area, were spot on. I grew up in that locale and can testify to the winter weather. Bone-chilling cold. I can only imagine what life must have been like for those poor souls in Dogtown who had so little to warm their bodies or hearts. And as far as no happy endings goes, I differ on that score too. It just depends on what one's idea of happiness is. Getting out of Dogtown to happily raise your family and own your own business as Oliver did, is just one example. Some died there, yes. But even in their deaths there was some resolution to their stories. Not everyone from Dogtown had a sad ending. I found the last of the book to be very satisfying. I enjoyed Diamante's story telling skills, she's an excellent writer. Don't let the fear of a sorrowful ending keep you from trying this title. Unless you are super sensitive, in which case you should stick to happy-ending authors, you will enjoy this book.
Easy, entertaining read. Rich characters.
I almost hesitate to keep this book on my list as I loved it so....
A wonderfully written story of early America. Think I'll start reading again, tonight.
Although this book is supposedly a novel, it's starts out more as a set of short stories revolving around the same characters; it is not until the last half of the novel that a thread of a plot line is found. The stories are a bit disjointed and it's hard to get to know the characters because of scant character development, so it was difficult for me to really care about the story. It wasn't horrible though, and I finished it. It was good for historical background and to get to know what life was like in the early 1800's.
I listened to this on tape and it was very good, even better than The Red Tent.
This book is small but interesting to read. It is about the last residents of a dying town in New England in the early l800's and is full of strange but loveable characters. I would recommend this book highly. Genny Sikes
i'm sorry to say i DNF this book. i have read her other 2 books and enjoyed them tremedously.
this book just feels disjointed. charachters thrown in here and there with no introduction,leaving you wonder "what the heck???"
really too bad, i wanted to love this book!
Although not as good as The Red Tent, I did feel sad to see it end.
What a remarkable story! It intertwines the lives of a variety of fascinating characters who live in a small New England town known as "Dog Town." There are some real villains here, but most of the people are the type you wouldn't mind knowing in real life. It took me a little while (about the first half of the first tape) to get into it since several characters are introduced right away, but by the end of the book, I felt I knew -- and cared about -- them all.
The narration by Kate Nelligan is excellent, although once in a while she overdoes it (most actors do, as opposed to professional narrators). Still, that's a minor quibble.
The book is unabridged, with 6 tapes and it runs about 9-1/2 hours.
I enjoyed how each chapter was a diffrent person, but how they all intertwined.
A compelling story written in exquisite prose.
A simple book that will stir up some powerful emotions. Diamant writes about a little-known place just outside of Gloucester in Massachussetts, providing a fictionalized version of its gradual "death". Dogtown is now nothing more than boulders, woods and trails that provide evidence, here and there, of having been a place where a few weary souls lived hard-scrabble lives. The book delves into the lives of the last remaining occupants, revealing how they came to live in Dogtown, their struggles, losses, precious wins, and, ultimately, how they left. It's a wonderful novel with deeply complex characters that seem as real as your next-door neighbors. At turns frightening, tragic or poignant, "The Last Days of Dogtown" is a perfect choice for a book club read and this edition provides a reading group guide to help with discussions.
I loved Diamant's book, The Red Tent. It's hard for any novel to measure up to my love for The Red Tent....It's my favourite! This one was not as good, but Diamant is a fantastic writer and it's worth the read.
We read this book in our offline book group. I really enjoyed the characters and the story -- the last days of a dying town, what happened to the people.
Didn't want to put it down.
A story of the folks who people a village near Cape Ann, Mass. in the 1800's. Written "with compassion for her characters" states The Boston Globe and many of them are women.
A magnificent storyteller with vast imaginative range, Anita Diamant gave voice to the silent women of the Old Testament in The Red Tent. Now, in her third novel, she brings to vivid life an early New England world that history has forgotten.
Set on Cape Ann in the early 1800s, The Last Days of Dogtown is peopled by widows, orphans, spinsters, scoundrels, whores, free Africans, and "witches." Nearly a decade ago, Diamant found an account of an abandoned rural backwater near the Massachusetts coastline at the turn of the nineteenth century. That pamphlet inspired a stunning novel about a small group of eccentrics and misfits, struggling in a harsh, isolated landscape only fifty miles north of Boston, yet a world away.
Among the inhabitants of Dogtown are Black Ruth, an African woman who dresses as a man and works as a stone mason; Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam whose grandson, Sammy, comes of age in her rural brothel; Oliver Younger, who survives a miserable childhood at the hands of a very strange aunt; and Cornelius Finson, a freed slave whose race denies him everything. At the center of it all is Judy Rhines, a fiercely independent soul, deeply lonely, who nonetheless builds a life for herself and inspires those around her to become more generous and tolerant themselves.
This is a story of hardship and resilience -- and an extraordinary re-creation of an untold chapter of early American life. With a keen ear for language and profound compassion for her characters, Diamant has written her most moving and powerful novel.
****This audio cassette is an interesting story taking place in Massachusetts in the 1800's.
The story was well-written and the characters well-developed. This was an unusual book, in that I didn't find any reason for the story. The jacket says she wanted to bring to life an early New England world that history has forgotten. I know why. It was boring. Not much happens in Dogtown, other than the usual gossip and cast of characters living mundane lives. I kept waiting for something to actually happen in the book, but was continually disappointed. I cannot wait to move on to something more riveting - like non-fiction.
Anita Diamant is an exceptional storyteller.
This story gives a unique perspective to the people who lived in Dogtown, Massachusetts.
This is a paperback advanced reading copy.