Title: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
Author: Paulette Mahurin
Review By: Engelia McCullough
In 1895 there are several events occurring around the world. Perhaps one of the most prevalent events being the imprisonment of poet Oscar Wilde in Britain. Across the pond, in a small town in Nevada, Mildred Dunlap is trying to prevent a similar persecution.
Starting with the cover, author Paulette Mahurin sets the tone for the book. It's a story of fear, anxiety, intolerance and hope. Red River Pass is a town that lives through the daily telegrams delivered via Morse code to the telegram office. Messages that the local gossip, Josie, makes sure is distributed throughout Red River Pass. Known as the town benefactor, Mildred Dunlap does her best to steer clear of Josie and her gaggle of friends and for good reason.
On a sprawling ranch outside of town, Mildred lives with her cousin, Edra. As the town is whipped into a frenzy over the Wilde incident; Mildred hatches a plan that she believes will secure her and Edra's future. However, as with all best laid plans, things do not turn out as she expects them to.
I love the language used by Mahurin to describe the various locations and progress in the book. From the "nightime merged into a new day" to "the seeds that grow and inflate the smallest minds into giants..." the reader is left with a colorful description of the characters internal thoughts and how they relate to their surroundings. There are times when the wording used is not in line with the era. Such as, "grab a bite to eat" which lends itself to more of a modern tone.
I would have liked to have seen a little more tension at the beginning of the story. Based on the title, I half expected the book to open with a trial or persecution of sorts. Or to at least have one by page 80 or so. As I read the book, I found the word"persecution" to be more of a metaphor. That Mildred was almost persecuting herself as a result of her strong feelings and need to protect Edra.
Edra is a character that gives the story an increased sense of uncertainty. A survivor of a horrible incident as a child, Edra still harbors some of that pain and insecurities. As a result, she often reacts to Mildred's actions brashly and is someone that the reader feels sorry for.
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is a book that clearly highlights the history of discrimination and the intolerance and ignorance of those around us. It resonated with me how we must be aware orfand respectful of those that are different or select an alternative lifestyle. At the end of the day, it really is none of our business and as long as they are happy and not hurting anyone: Does it matter?
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