14 April 2011

Stella: Unrepentant Madam by Linda J. Eversole

What a life!! It's always interesting to try and review a work of non-fiction. Obviously the story is what it is - and in this case, what a story! I am not sure why the author chose to write about Stella: she is not particularly famous (or infamous). I would expect that her personality and lifestyle didn't differ much from other madams of the time, but her life makes for a rich and colourful read.

Linda Eversole's writing style is straight-forward and flows easily. I forgot, from time to time, that I was reading non-fiction. 'Stella' reads like a novel. The pictures interspersed throughout the story are fantastic. It's nice that the author has included these so that long (and often boring) setting and character descriptions can be avoided. After all 'a picture is worth a thousand words'.  

Non-fiction is not my favorite genre, as a rule. I often find it hard to get into the story and become distracted and side-tracked by statistics, descriptions and political explanations. The author managed to avoid these for the most part and still give the reader a good sense of the times.

I was most impressed, I think, by the portrayal of Stella as she was, warts and all. There was no attempt to downplay her faults or over play her positive traits. So often the characters of the 'wild west' are so overblown that they become less than what they were.

The biggest criticism I have of the book would have to be the ending. OK - I know, NON-fiction. The ending is what it is. But it felt like the author tried a little too hard to play on the emotions of the reader at the end of the novel. Something she had managed not to do throughout the rest of the book.

I suspect that, had I lived at the end of the 19th century (that's the 1800s, right?), I would have been Ma Ingalls ... but I would have wished to be Stella!


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