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Just a middle-brow reader who loves a good story, recipe or how-to.

 

Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein - WWI Era Historical Fiction

Unmentionables - Laurie Loewenstein

To celebrate today's official release of the "flagship novel" from Kaylie Jones Books (a new imprint of Akashic Books), Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein, I'm repeating my 5 star GoodReads review here.  I wish I had time to reread it today...

 

Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables is the best work of historical fiction I have read in the past few years. 


From the heat and excitement of the Chautauqua assemblies, to the prejudices and politics of segregated small town America, to the dangerous French countryside of World War I, the settings are firmly planted in 1917. Where some authors of the genre stop a story to relate facts they found through research, this author seamlessly integrates her research into the story, and a well researched story it is. Complete with wonderful small details such as a shirtwaist that smells of starch, a japanned tray, and the use of “criminently.”

With a story revolving mainly around a suffragette and a small town publisher, I expected the cause of the suffragette movement to be the primary impetus for conflict in the story. But rather than a story about conflicts, though there are several and they are quite interesting and serve the story well, to me this is a novel focused more on how the characters relate to each other, and how they grow through their interactions.

I expect that many readers of Unmentionables will identify with Marian or possibly Deuce or his step-daughter Helen. It surprised me, partly because I didn’t have much sympathy for her initially, when I found myself contemplating Tula after finishing the novel. She had grown on me until I began identifying with her and ended up greatly enjoying her storyline. 

As much as I enjoyed this novel, and feel that this review does not do it justice, there were a few minor points that were negatives for me (and are only mentioned to give some little balance to this review):

I went into this novel with a prejudice against the name Deuce and did not lose my dislike of it, though it was a bit better once I knew it was a nickname and the story behind it.

The introduction of the ambulance drivers’ names was so abrupt, that it took me out of the story as I tried to figure out who these new characters were and look back to see if I had missed an explanation for the use of nicknames such as “Links” and “The Gish.”

As this was an ARC that I won through the GoodReads First Reads program (and I was thrilled to get it, the title alone had me hooked), I was very surprised to find only one typo – the omission of the word “to” on page 145 of my copy -which is an incredibly minor problem and probably fixed.

This is definitely a novel I would recommend (but maybe not so much to my mother, as she really wouldn’t approve of the brief and non-gratuitous sexual content) and will be putting it in the "re-read this" section of my bookshelves.