Author: Donna Baier Stein
Publisher: Serving House
Type of book:Wisconsin, 1866, 1876-1900s, family, mother/daughter bond, religion, Catholicism, god, marriage, divorce, silver, Sherman Act, poverty, wealth, scandal, mining, Utah, Colorado
Year it was published: 2016
The Silver Baron's Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado's Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). This fascinating heroine worked in the silver mines and had two scandalous marriages, one to a philandering opium addict and one to a Senator and silver baron worth $24 million in the late 19th century. A divorcee shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor's Opera House, and after her second husband's death, moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine in Leadville. She lived the last 35 years of her life there, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social expectations by working where 19thcentury women didn't work, becoming the key figure in one of the West's most scandalous love triangles, and, after a devastating stock market crash destroyed Tabor's vast fortune, living in eccentric isolation at the Matchless Mine. An earlier version of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction."
Main characters include Elizabeth "Baby" Doe Tabor, a Catholic young woman who is not exactly typical for her time because she loves working in a mine at a time when women shouldn't have been doing that, and also has an extremely scandalous marriage to Horace Tabor. Throughout the novel she seems to be estranged from her family and church against her will and never seems to come at peace with that. She also tries to reconcile being herself as well as following that society and religion dictate, but she seems not to be successful in that venture. Harvey is Baby Doe Tabor's first husband who is Protestant and who is complete opposite of Baby Doe Tabor in all ways. (He's a womanizer, hates working at a mine and etc.) Horace Tabor is Baby Doe Tabor's second husband who is also Catholic, much older than she and even went so far as to get a divorce from his first wife to marry Baby Doe Tabor. He is loyal and tries his best to provide the life he feels she and his daughters deserve. He also strikes me as a bit in denial as to what is going on with the silver and extremely extravagant. Lily is Baby Doe Tabor's first daughter who seems to be haughty and resentful of how life turned out for her family as well as a tad bit elitist. Silver Dollar is the youngest daughter who seems to be a lot like Baby Doe Tabor and is tomboyish and outgoing.
The state of being correct or right is in opinion
The story is written in first person narrative from Baby Doe Tabor's point of view. The story begins in 1935, presumably on the last day of her life, but then moves back to 1866 to when she is going through Confirmation and then jumps ahead to 1876 when she begins her own self discovery through her ex husband Harvey as they attempt to make success of a mine her father-in-law gifted to them. The years from 1870s up until 1900s? are vivid and filled with numerous details about her life which seems exciting and also strikes me as authentic. (A lot of authors tend to create women characters that seem a bit out of place in a time period,) but Baby Doe Tabor is realistic for her time and is also complex and seems to be uncertain of her standing in society.
About the Author
A while ago I recall talking to a former friend, and he was explaining to me the meaning of quality versus quantity. Length of the book doesn't matter, but what matters is the quality of the story that is contained within the pages. I think I came into reading this story with my own set of preconceived notions; that a short book means something light and fluffy and that there wouldn't be depth or lessons within. I am happy to have been proven wrong on this point. The story is powerful, memorable and not something that a person will easily get over with anytime soon. There is something poetic and heartbreaking about it, something that makes me want to change the course of her life. Prior to this book, I never heard of Elizabeth "Baby" Doe Tabor, the infamous wife to the Silver Baron known as Horace Tabor, whom he scandalized society to be with her. The story doesn't present her as evil or as a homewrecker, but instead she is presented with a sort of sympathy and as someone who has been failed by society and is trying to live life on her own terms. I think personally I would have liked to see the relationship between her and her daughters explored more towards the end, but I am thinking the author might have done that on purpose because it seem as if throughout the story Baby Doe Tabor, little by little is fracturing and with the final break up of the family, it's as if Baby Doe Tabor stopped enjoying and just simply survived. Not much is written or speculated about her later years when she lived in a cabin, but instead more is focused on her prior to the final breakup.
This is for HFVBT Tours
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)