The premise is excellent -- but the execution was disappointing. Perhaps the book later redeemed itself, but I didn't care to dedicate the time to som...moreThe premise is excellent -- but the execution was disappointing. Perhaps the book later redeemed itself, but I didn't care to dedicate the time to something so unpromising.
First, the writing style is mostly unnoticeable (neither good nor bad), but at times slightly jarring -- for example, saying that after his proposal, white people yelled "racist epithets" at Little Wolf and the other Cheyennes in the streets. Show me how they're racist -- don't simply tell me that they are.
Secondly -- and this is the real reason I decided I couldn't finish the book -- one of my biggest literary pet peeves is characters that are too precociously (read: annoyingly) modern in their sensibilities and attitudes to be altogether believable. May Dodd, presumably living in 1875, lightly mentions that having two children out of wedlock and refusing to marry her children's father merely indicates that she is "an independent, some might say unconventional, woman." Good or bad, this is supposed to be 1875 -- and in that light I have a lot of trouble imagining her as the feminist free spirit that Jim Fergus seems to want the reader to imagine her as. It just was not believable to me to have a character living in that time that behaved like that -- and viewed her own actions in that light. Not that things like this never happened before the sexual revolution, but it was always (to both the participators and society in general) more than a somewhat "unconventional" act when it did.
Also, skimming ahead, I was disappointed to find that Jim Fergus is a writer who enjoys phonetically spelling out dialects, to distracting and irritating (and perhaps slightly insulting) effect. One wonders how May Dodd was even able to understand Irish McIrish Lass beyond her brogue, whether from clarity or simply distraction from how quaint and cute she sounded.
I'm sure there are redeeming qualities in this book; it just wasn't worth it to me to stick around and find them out.