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Maud's Line by Margaret Verble: A Book Review

Maud’s Line
Author: Margaret Verble
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Pages: 304
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: A debut novel chronicling the life and loves of a headstrong, earthy, and magnetic heroine.

     Eastern Oklahoma, 1928. Eighteen-year-old Maud Nail lives with her rogue father and sensitive brother on one of the allotments parceled out by the U.S. Government to the Cherokees when their land was confiscated for Oklahoma’s statehood. Maud’s days are filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but often marked by violence and tragedy, a fact that she accepts with determined practicality. Her prospects for a better life are slim, but when a newcomer with good looks and books rides down her section line, she takes notice. Soon she finds herself facing a series of high-stakes decisions that will determine her future and those of her loved ones.

     Maud’s Line is accessible, sensuous, and vivid. It will sit on the bookshelf alongside novels by Jim Harrison, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and other beloved chroniclers of the American West and its people.

     My review: Maud lives on a farm with her father and brother on government allotted land that was given to Cherokee Indians. They are having a bitter feud with the Mount family, who live near them. One day a peddler named Booker comes into town, and soon strikes up a conversation with Maud about books. This conversation quickly turns into a romance. When the Mounts do something sinister the ends up giving Maud’s brother the rabies disease, things really get ugly. The Mounts turn up dead, and her father is nowhere to be found. He is highly suspected of murder. Maud and Booker’s love are tested, and Maud must find the strength to battle her hardships to find happiness.

     I found Maud to be an unlikable heroine. I like that Maud is strong and independent. She is mostly alone in the novel. Her brother has gone mad and is losing his senses, and her father is gone. She has to fend for herself. Maud does find the support from her other family members, like her aunts and uncles, that help her through her hardships. She is smart, for she has a love of learning and books, but she sometimes makes decisions that make her situations really worse. I did not like some of these actions. She lied to the police and to her love, and I found it hard to trust her. The situation would have been easier if she was straight up honest. I also found her to be selfish. All she cared about was Booker, and did not seem to care much about those around her. She did not really give much attention to her brother or much concern for her missing father.

     Overall, the plot is really slow and predictable. When I first started reading this novel, I found the names of the characters silly and it was an impediment to my reading. One example is her brother is named Lovely. I really don’t know how anyone could name a boy Lovely, and when I first read the name, I thought it was a girl until I later found out it was her brother, and I had to go back and re-read it. I also really could not get into the author’s writing style. I did not see much development to the characters. Even though the author goes on a pace reminiscent of a long hot summer afternoon, there were some interesting plot lines in the novel. I liked the murder mystery, and her brother’s struggle of rabies. There really was not much about talk about the Cherokee culture as I had hoped. In conclusion, there were several things about Maud that I did not like so well, and sometimes I felt the plot dragged, but the murder mystery, the romance, and the descriptions of Maud’s brother’s fight with rabies were interesting enough for me to recommend the book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the American West or who like murder mysteries set in historical times.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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