October 05, 2011

The Edge of Town by Dorothy Garlock

I picked this book up by accident thinking I was getting the works of a different author. Turns out it was a good accident. I really enjoyed this book.

Set in the early 1900's its essentially a romance novel. But Garlock adds plenty of excitement and intrigue to her book as well. As a warning though, she does not hesitate to put controversial subject matter in also.

The main character is Julie, the oldest sister of six other siblings, whose name also start with J and a father named Jethro. After the death of her mother she dropped out of school to care for everyone and run the household. While a bit disappointed that she couldn't start her own life or finish school, she loves taking care of her family and is not unhappy with her lot in life.

Unfortunately, in the town of Fertile there has been a rash of rapes and a new lawman is hired in to clean up the town a bit and provide a bit of safety for its residents. Also new to town is Evan Johnson, son of the town drunk. Residents are vary of him because they believe that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. One of the last newcomer is Birdie, and by default her daughter. A widow who is staying with her brother, she has her sights set on Evan and loathes Julie.

Julie grows close to Evan and when it sparks Birdie's jealousy, she turns to Julie's father. A pathological liar, Birdie could destroy the happy family if Julie's father is not careful. She even goes so far as to try to accuse Evan in an investigation to get even with him.

The lawman must find the culprit and Julie has to decide whether or not she believes Evan in the fact that he is innocent. She also has to decide how she's going to deal with Birdie and worst of all, with everything that's happening, will she be able to hide her secret that could ruin her in the eyes of the town?

The characters were well done in this book. It was easy to want to hate Birdie and to cheer on Julie. You wanted to shake the father for his stupidity and hope that Evan was as good as he acted. They all were able to show separate personalities, which is amazing considering the amount of siblings that Julie has.

Her writing is very descriptive but can run to crude at times. In regards to the rapes and in the case of Walter, Evan's dad, she has no problem using cussing and vulgar words.

My only complaint about the book would be the way the characters spoke. I wasn't there in the early 1900's but some of the language seemed more modern than I would have expected. Women also seemed to have a very strong role in the community, Julie especially in regards to her father which also didn't seem to genuine to the time period to me.

Garlock keeps you on your toes in this novel. Just when you think you can guess the ending, she switches it up on you. I confess, I stayed up much later than I should have reading this book just to find out what happens next. Definitely a good read.

The Edge of Town
Copyright 2001
370 pages

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