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Fire in Beulah
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Fire in Beulah

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Rilla Askew's first novel, The Mercy Seat, which was lauded as powerful and arresting by The New York Times Book Review and an extraordinary story by the Boston Globe proved that she was not afraid to tackle big, primal American themes. Her newest, Fire in Beulah, set in the same heartland territory as The Mercy Seat, is a chronicle of race, greed, and moral choice in the ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 15th 2001 by Viking Adult
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Hennessey Library
This is a devastating book, hard to read, hard to put down, hard to begin, and it haunts the reader's day, especially the Oklahoma reader with some connection to Eastern Oklahoma and Tulsa. The climactic scenes of Fire in Beulah explode in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, but the book is less about race and more about kinship, Rilla Askew's recurring theme. The threads of relationship draw two women, one white, one black, more tightly to one another as the events spin out, and each woman grows gen ...more
Amanda Wilson-McDougle

When I think of the opening setting of Fire in Beulah, I do not get the image of a family like the March family in Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. Fire in Buelah has quite the opposite environment. The lady of the Whiteside residence, Rachel Whiteside makes the choice of protecting herself inside her upstairs bedroom. Her reasoning of not wanting the wind "suck the life from her unborn child" (3) seems logical enough. For the previous seven days, the south wind has struck the Deep Fork R
I read this last year for the Oklahoma Centennial. It was a good way to find out some of the history of Tulsa, but at times hard to plow through. Parts of it are intensely boring, however, overall not a bad book if you are into Oklahoma authors and historical fiction.
Dec 10, 2007 Ellie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like fictionalized history
This is a fictionalized account of the Tulsa race riots in 1921. While not a genre I'd typically go for, I picked up this book and was immediately hooked. Askew's writing is haunting and mesmerizing; from the first sentence you sense the impending doom.
All it was cracked up to be. Had me in the first page and a half! I was kind of tired of historical fiction, I thought. Can't wait to read the rest of her books. Thanks for the referral, Susan!
This stand alone great book, published in 2001, is a must read for anyone. But it is especially poignant for people who was reared in or are currently living in Oklahoma. This is the story of the relationship between an oil wildcatter's wife, Althea, and her housemaid, Graceful. This 1920's historical novel takes place around northeastern and central Oklahoma leading up to the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. A truly sad and pathetic story of greed, hate, mistrust, lawlessness and redemption. Stories l ...more
This is an intense book, but gripping and very well-written. They say there's nothing like fiction for placing you inside the head of someone who is very different from yourself, and this book is a fine example of that rule.

I was interested in reading this because I grew up in Tulsa, and the story of the race riot was always present, but I had never really explored it historically. Fire in Beulah really personalizes the terror and inhumanity of the riot, putting names and faces on the perpetrato
Rilla Askew is an extremely talented and visionary writer;she is proud of being an Oklahoman and has set herself the task of telling the myriad stories of her state's origins, in the multiple voices of all its peoples,whites,blacks,Native American,Latino,etalia. As she proved in The Mercy Seat, she knows how to inhabit the dreams and sensibilities of people of color and alternate ethnicity.Her descriptive ability rivals the greatest American authors, so it was with great anticipation that I pick ...more
Superb story of two women caught in turbulent times in a vicious society. The context is Oklahoma during the early twentieth century oil boom. Money has made men drunk with greed. Racism has made an entire region--if not nation--callous and inhumane. Askew's characters are very real and transforming. Her writing is compelling, elegant, and gripping. As a bonus, she's done her homework. This story is securely lodged in unspoken Oklahoma history. By the time the novel ends, readers will have had a ...more
Rilla Askew is a wonderful and powerful writer, even when building a story around ugly pieces of our history. In this book, she tells of early 20th century Oklahoma, with the boom of the oil industry, and the racial tensions that culminate in the race riots of Tulsa, in 1921. The central figures in this story are Althea Whiteside, seemingly well-to-do wife of an oil speculator, and Graceful, her black maid. Although this book takes place in Oklahoma, the incidents recounted are reminiscent of ou ...more
I didn't know much about the Tulsa race riot which is sad since I'm a native Tulsan. While this book is fiction, I suspect it's pretty true to life. I like the way the author wrote this novel in the various voices of the participants in this drama. I found the story disturbing in the cruelty of the "white" people and the warpeed view they had of "black" people. I'm happy to say that we have progressed in our attitudes and actions. This book should be a must read and a basis for discussion in ear ...more
Probably her very best. A must-read, especially if you don't know about the Tulsa race riots.
A story of black and white race issues set in the time leading up to the Tulsa Oklahoma race riot. Shows insight into how ingrained thinking about race was for both whites and blacks. Gives a good glimpse of what life was like in a southern oil state in the early 1920's. A quick read through about the Tulsa race riots in Wikipedia would be helpful before beginning the book.
Michaela Ahern
The book takes a while to build and get to the heart of the story but it ends very strong, I found myself racing to finish. I had never heard of the Tulsa race riots before and the story is heavy yet captivating. I tend to overlook books that are overwrought when the story captures my attention. Parts of the story could easily have been cut out as they were boring and didn't add anything to the overall narrative.
Interesting fictional book set at the time of the Tulsa race riots in 1921. The lives of an oilman, his genteelly mentally ill wife, and their maid are explored. The relationships lend insight to the gulf of understanding between people and races that led to the riots. Lots of local interest as the author's research appears impeccable.
Doris Wedge
Get to know two families, one black, one white, as they endure the race riot in Tulsa in the early 1920s. It is a fascinating fictional look at Oklahoma's black communities and culture as it interacted with the white culture in oil-booming Oklahoma.
Some of the story got a little unbelievable and I was shocked at some of the actions of the characters. But, as always, Askew's prose - descriptions, characters' thoughts and feelings, explanations - are so, so, so good.
Well written book. Kept my attention. It was especially interesting because it was based in my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just recently I visited a few places on the race riots in Tulsa. Great learning experience. :)
Very good book. A heavy read, dense, but rich in characters and story. You don't breeze through this kind of book. I usually do not like a lot of descripition, but I think Askew's is very poinant.
Rebecca Forster
This was one of the most moving books I ever read. Rilla Askew's incredible opening was only a taste of what was to come. If you like southern historicals, this one is for you.
Sandy Pfefferkorn
This book is a fictionalized account about the race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. It is well-written, and the characters are well-developed and believable.
The story surrounds the true story of a major fire in Beulah; the complications of the lives of the characters is fascinating and revealing of man's struggles.
Mar 25, 2010 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Liz by: a professor at occc
I learned alot about Oklahoma history and also about the unjust treatment that the blacks in Oklahoma recieved. Does have some language in it.
03/01/2004 Moore Library Book Discussion: Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma
Well written about a time in my own area that I never knew existed.
I read this book years ago and was just reminded of it because of the recent happenings in Tulsa. I would like to read it again.
Jun 12, 2008 James rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NOBODY
Recommended to James by: My School
Worst book I've ever read. It had pages and pages of details but not one main idea. It had no purpose and was written in pretty poor taste.
Wow. The scenes vivid, the characters interesting, the historical incidents completely new to me. What a book
So bad! And old, it was hard to finish. I had to quit it was so lacking my attention!
I didn't finish. I gave up about 2/3 of the way through. Ugh.
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Rilla Askew's first novel, The Mercy Seat, had its seeds in old stories about her family’s migration from the American South into Indian Territory. The book was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Prize, and received the Oklahoma Book Award and the Western Heritage Award in 1998. Fire in Beulah, her novel about the Tulsa Race Riot, received the American Book A ...more
More about Rilla Askew...
Kind of Kin Harpsong The Mercy Seat Strange Business Red Dirt Women: At Home on the Oklahoma Plains

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