Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fergus, Jim (One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd)

The first time I picked up this book, I was immediately turned off by the obvious character clich├ęs used by the author during the very first train ride (so 20 pages into the book). This seemed an example of a lazy mind-- someone who isn't able to fully flesh out his characters, and so resorts to the tried-n-true.

I will edit my original opinion having had to read this book again for book club. It is not quite as bad as I had feared. I still think it's a product of lazy writing, and that it's an extremely thinly disguised romance novel using a preposterous premise, but I managed to stop skimming it two-thirds of the way through and actually start reading it.

Mr. Fergus did read his American Indian history, and while he has created an environment replete with yet more clich├ęs about the life of the American Indian in the 1800s, he fairly shows all sides of their way of life-- both the lovely and the horrific. The "brides" are more broadly developed characters than I expected, and Fergus is also wise enough not to paint too full a picture of something he would know less than nothing about-- the thoughts and feelings of their husbands and the other Cheyenne women.

But I still disliked it quite a bit. The heavy-handed diary entries and letters, in ye olde American Victorian, were hard to swallow and made the entire novel sound overly fake. I'm not sure I got anything out of this book but a bumpy ride, to be honest.

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