Review: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin


When Oscar Wilde is sentenced for “gross indecency,” the news spreads like a wild fire across the globe. Upon reaching Red River Pass, it throws the small Nevada town into pandemonium and restlessness. Hateful prejudice and abuse is the common response for this recently criminalized act, and sets the tone for activities in the coming week.

In Mahurin’s debut novel, we are introduced to several intriguing characters and how their lives are affected by the news of this same sex relationship. As if this seemingly forbidden act wasn’t present in the town, we find in Mildred and her cousin Edra, a lesbian couple who tries their best to keep their relationship a secret. But then in Red River Pass, gossip sells.

Admitting that they are not immune from suspicion, Mildred comes up with a plan. She tries to court Charley, a widower, with the hope of turning away public eye from her and her partner. At first this seems like a perfect plan but it soon creates a chain of mind-gripping events that sets up a very realistic ending.

As an aspiring writer, I am attracted to Mahurin’s style of writing. She writes sensibly and sensitively…strong on description, mood and setting. Her intelligent use of time (as this pertains to historical fiction) is worthy of emulation. During this period of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, she incorporates other historical issues like sovereignty and racism into her story. This helps to create an atmosphere that really dates back in time and doesn’t bore the reader in any way. The quotes of Oscar Wilde at the start of each chapter are well chosen. In fact, I consider them to be sweet preludes. One can’t go through the book without taking note of the emotions (greed, anger, malice, jealousy, and love) and behavior of the characters in her book. They are all believable and memorable. Also, the dialogues throughout the book are in no way disappointing.

Even if you are not into historical fiction, I bet you’ll still find this book worth the while. Within the story is an important lesson about cultivating good friendship, tolerance, and love.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*I have received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*