Jane Smiley's latest? A Gold Rush-era California sex worker mystery

Eliza was free. Dragged west to Gold Rush California from Michigan by her bully of a husband, liberated by a bullet that turned her into a widow, s...

December 2, 2022
4:36 AM

Eliza was free. Dragged west to Gold Rush California from Michigan by her bully of a husband, liberated by a bullet that turned her into a widow, she considered her future in the windswept port town of Monterey. She did not miss her husband, who before he died had 'made it clear that he intended to put it to her, whether she liked it or not, once or twice every day.' She did not miss her strait-laced Christian parents. She did not miss Kalamazoo. Eliza's options were limited. The logical next step for a woman without means was prostitution, and she took it up with few regrets.

Mary Ann Gwinn