Monday, August 23, 2010
Book Review: One Thousand White Women
The novel is written as a diary by Mary Dodd who was committed to an insane asylum by her parents because she had two children out of wedlock. When she is given the chance to leave the asylum and start a new life as a bride to a "savage", she jumps at the opportunity. The women who also took the government up on their offer include an impoverished Southern belle, two Irish criminals, a prude, a freed slave and many more. None of them know what to expect from their new lives and many are terrified when they meet their betrothed. Yet, being wed to a "savage" is not the hardest thing these women will have to overcome.
First of all, the reviews for this book are harshly divided. People either absolutely loved it and would include it on their list of books they would take to a deserted island. While others wish it could be part of a book burning party. However, I have to say that I am somewhere in between. This is far from a favorite for me and I would have to say that I am a bit leery about recommending it to my friends because I think they would find the characters to be shallow, the plot to be insipid, and the overall message to be muddled. Still, that's no reason to get out your lighter fluid. The way I would describe this novel is a western for women filled with the adventure of a John Wayne movie and just about equal in character development.
With such a diverse cast of characters I thought I would find one that was intriguing. But alas...they were nothing but cliches and offensive ones at that. I wasn't as repulsed by the characters as some other reviewers but I didn't find them in any way enlightening. I think that it would make a great book club book (and it has) because people are so divided and feel passionately about it.
Lastly, what made me actually dislike the book had nothing to do with the novel itself but all to do with the author. After reading the novel, I looked at some of the reviews on Amazon.com and found that almost every review that gave Fergus 1 star was subject to aggressive comments by Fergus himself. Though I believe authors should be allowed to defend their work, I also think that discourse and negative reviews do not deter readers but instead inspire people to read a novel that could create such reactions (cough cough...Twilight...). Unfortunately, Fergus has muddied the waters with his own comments. This has only further alienated readers who didn't like his novel and I am almost certain that they will never read another one of his novels and might even bad-mouth him to others.