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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Bilson

Lucky Creek Lady by Shirley Kennedy

Set amid the fervor of California’s Gold Rush, the Lucky Creek Lady is Laurie Sinclair, whose father left a comfortable life in Philadelphia to chase dreams of gold. When her entomologist fiance goes on yet another expedition instead of setting a wedding date, Laurie sets of the visit her family in Lucky Creek, and at first she can’t wait to go home. Far from the civilized world she knows, Lucky Creek is a rough frontier town populated with rougher characters, like Darcy the mine owner, whose contempt for her ‘society ways’ couldn’t be plainer.

When an accident devastates the Sinclair family, however, it’s Darcy who steps up to offer his help, and Laurie soon finds that there’s more to this mine owner than meets the eye. Their romance is very believable, growing as it does from not really liking each other through mutual respect and finally to love.

Lucky Creek Lady doesn’t sanitize the Old West; far from it. From deadly mining accidents to a child dying from diptheria and a Bolivian woman’s unjust travesty of a trial, conviction and hanging, the book paints a clear picture of a hard land where only the toughest thrive. Laurie’s the one who finds an unexpected toughness in herself when adversity comes, and it’s she who leads the drive for the whole town to change and become more civilized, too.

While there’s extra-marital sex in the book, it’s pretty much glossed over without detail, all the same I wouldn’t pick this one up if you’re looking for a gentle sort of read, because there’s a graphic death in the middle of the story I found pretty shocking. There’s some pointed commentary about the racism of the time which is certainly realistic, but comes off a little hypocritical from the perspective of the white heroine with several servants who are people of color, especially as she completely failed to make a difference with her efforts.

4 stars for a historically accurate read which missed the mark in a few places, for me.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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