Back to the goodwill from whence you came. I picked this up because I liked Room, the cover, and the dollar price tag. It was worth the buck I paid, and when I went to Amazon for the link and found the other reviewers gave it a 3 star average I thought “yep, that’s about right.”
I feel bad picking on Donoghue for a book she obviously put a lot of thought into and researched thoroughly, but I’m kind of over historical fiction that reads like it was written by modern authors. Looking your way Pillars of the Earth, Slammerkin, and countless others.
While I enjoyed Blanche not being a typical fictional “ruined woman” as a showgirl in 1800s San Francisco, her attitudes toward her situation feel like something a modern author invented to fit the narrative she wanted to craft, and the tension when the hard facts of the case bump up against Donoghue’s idea of Blanche and her other characters is evident. Jenny, our murder victim, has surprisingly modern attitudes regarding her typically male clothing, and the lack of information about her life is just explained away by her being mysterious to Blanche as well. And when Blanche testifies, for example, and makes up on the spot that her ex-lover was jealous and got down on his knees and begged her to return, it’s obvious that the exaggeration is due to her not being entirely truthful, and Donoghue attempts to negotiate this with the desperate but brave woman she’s created for her story.
It’s not bad, it’s just not Room, which was so remarkable for being true to its characters and its unique perspective. Going back for resale.