Mary Doria Russell is coming to Village Books in Fairhaven on Wednesday, November 2nd, at 4pm, and we could not be more excited! Widely praised for meticulous research, fine prose, and the compelling narrative drive of her stories, Russell is the award-winning author of six bestselling novels, including the science fiction classics The Sparrow and Children of God. With her latest novels, Doc and Epitaph, Russell has redefined two towering figures of the American West: the lawman Wyatt Earp and the dental surgeon Doc Holliday. To hold us over until her visit, please enjoy this dual review from Laurie:
Doc and Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
Hmmm...a Western...not the normal genre I gravitate towards, but there's always a first time. It helped that the author is one of my favorites and she is coming to Village Books in November to talk about her books. Her first novel, The Sparrow, was my first foray into sci-fi, and it is honestly one of my more memorable reads, with threads of the Jesuit religion drawing the story together, and a shocking ending that one never forgets. After a sequel to this book (Children of God), Russell changed direction and wrote a WWII novel, set within the Italian resistance, called Thread of Grace. Next up, another shift in Dreamers of the Day, as the world powers slice and dice the Middle East up to their own desires. Then, Russell moves back in time to the iconic Wild Wild West with her companion books about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
While it is not necessary to read one to understand and enjoy the other, I found that reading Doc definitely added to my depth of knowledge once I started into Epitaph. (Note on the title: love the nod to the name of the setting, Tombstone:) John Henry Holliday, dentist not medical doctor, began life as a petted son of aristocratic southern planters, but his life turns West after a tuberculosis diagnosis. In Doc, we see Holliday's complicated life of gambling, drinking, womanizing, as well as his relationship with the Earp brothers. Epitaph unwinds the long, slow march towards the famous shootout at the O.K. corral. Admittedly, I am a huge historical trivia buff, and I found much of this narrative utterly fascinating. Mary Doria Russell is an expert at getting inside a character's head, walking us around to see every facet, and showing us 'heroes' with clay feet and 'bad guys' with redemptive qualities. I highly recommend both books, as well as her talk at Village Books on November 2.
Reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.