Monday 31 January 2022

The Mrs Tabor by Kimberly Burns

Reviewer's Choice

Fictional Drama
US History

"Every age has its iconic blonde bombshell. In the 1880s, it’s Baby Doe, America’s original gold digger. At a time when genteel ladies could politely starve to death, Baby Doe seeks her fortune the best way she knows how—marrying a rich man. She joins the rush to the Colorado silver bonanza and meets millionaire mine owner Horace Tabor. Baby Doe enjoys the high life as his paramour, but Tabor’s wife and his business manager plot to get rid of the new girl. Baby Doe, however, has schemes of her own to upend Horace’s old relationships and become the one and only Mrs. Tabor.
But fate sweeps in and avalanches Baby Doe’s dreams. What price will she pay for becoming The Mrs. Tabor?
Based on a true story, The Mrs. Tabor seduces with a scandalous tale of love and fortunes found and lost."

Being part of a review team means getting to try books we wouldn’t ordinarily pick up and I picked this up not so much because of the subject matter but because the opening pages sang to me. The author is clearly enjoying herself and in fact, the whole book is joyous. It’s deliciously wry, and there is a distinct author’s voice/style of narrative: it’s a perfect mixture of show AND tell, and this means the story whizzes along. The pace suits Baby Doe’s 'can do, will do' attitude. The story is often delivered with the author's tongue firmly in cheek, with Ms Burns showing us what the characters themselves can’t see, and there is a lot of enjoyable irony there. 

There were several moments where I couldn’t help but smile as the characters remained gloriously lacking in self-awareness. There were also moments of real poignancy and Baby’s losses were hard to bear. Did she learn from her mistakes? I’m not so sure, but that wasn’t Baby’s style and I’m glad that she remained true to her incorrigible self. 

The detailed description of the booming mining towns, and their deterioration, was skilfully depicted, as was the behaviour of Baby’s enemies who displayed all their haughty superiority in grand style. There is also a more serious theme and that concerns the choices available to women at this time. Baby may be at times delusional but she's never wrong when she says that there are limited ways in which women can get by in the world, and she never apologises for the routes she's taken. Neither does she ever give way to self-pity. All in all, great fun and a rollicking good read.

I must add that this is a debut novel and Discovering Diamonds reviewed an early edition where the narrative was, unfortunately, marred by a number of typos and grammatical errors, (and I also questioned whether it was Bill Cody who called himself 'Wild' as I think that was Bill Hickok?). We therefore strongly suggested a thorough re-edit and reprint - and are delighted that Ms Burns took our advice, re-edited and republished. Unable to re-read the new text (time limitations and newly submitted books to review) we hope and are confident that this new edition is now improved to the standard it deserves.

The Mrs Tabor is a great page-turner of a story told with flair, and so we have awarded it the accolade of Reviewer's Choice because - even with the original errors -  it was still a wonderful read.

Ms Burns is definitely an author to watch out for.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Lucy Townshend
 e-version reviewed

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