Crown of Dust
Soho, Nov 1 2010, $24.00
As the Gold Rush fever spreads across the country, temporary poorly constructed towns like Motherlode, California form. Realizing a chance to make some needed money from the horde, Emaline runs the Victoria Inn providing room and board to the prospectors trying to make their fortune. For the right price, she also offers other specialized services.
Emaline is attracted to the mystery of newcomer Alex, an enigmatic stranger who never speaks more than a few words at a time and never stops for a second even when acknowledging others like his hostess. Unable to resist learning more about the silent man with the hat, Emaline learns he is a she. Further unable to stop herself from going maternal, Emaline keeps an eye on Alex, who becomes known as "Golden Boy" as “he” seems to find gold in the mines. As Alex’s gender bending causes “him” trouble due to his effeminate manner, Emaline runs into trouble due to her relationship with a black man.
This is a great Gold Rush era tale that provides the audience with a deep look at life in one of the hastily constructed towns. Emaline is a wonderful protagonist who holds the insightful story line together as she has a heart of gold (sorry for my triteness) and cares for others while also trying to make it anyway she can. The support cast is solid enhancing a strong sense of time and place. Hopefully Mary Volmer can find more gold circa 1850 California.