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Mayhem                                                                             

By  Elizabeth Harris

2015

Reviewed by Angie Mangino

Rating:  5 stars                                                                  

 

Evelyn Kunkle was born in 1909, married Lester Gant, Jr. in 1927, and lived in Central Texas.  Immediately the author introduces readers to her.

 

“A young woman climbing out of an old Essex in a cloche hat and a flowered maroon rummage sale dress in front of the Prince Carl County courthouse, that’s what some observers will remember – and everything they knew about her at the time.”

 

Readers, however, will be privy to the different lives destiny required of her.  First she lives the life of a prominent landowner’s daughter.  Next, she lives as a respected married woman.  Finally, she is an outcast, becoming a paid laborer in other people’s homes, surviving by holding within herself the summation of all three lives.

 

The writing style and dialogue seeped in the time and location transports readers to her historical time, giving an understanding of radically different societal norms than now, allowing for better understanding of her plight.

 

Readers bond with Evelyn as her story absorbs them.  Like this reviewer, they may cry out in defense of her, wanting to save her from the rigid, patriarchal environment.  It is this very personal desire to defend her that illustrates the author’s skill in making the fictional characters so very real.  Evelyn’s story will stay with readers after they finish this well-crafted historical novel.