I read strictly for pleasure, so if a book entertains me I make few other judgments about it. For that reason I rarely review a book. I can overlook many flaws if I remain eager to turn the next page.
A Town Called Alice passed that test for me. I often felt amusement by the improbability that Strachan would know the most intimate details of Jeanís life. I was going to write a ridiculing sentence about the idea that Jean could single-handedly cause a town to flourish until I remembered that the resurrection of my own lovely town was initiated by one individual.
The racism that permeated the charactersí attitudes was uncomfortable as it always is in a book that accurately reflects culture and era. But I am even less comfortable with historical novels that do not reflect prevailing attitudes so that the writer and readers can all feel better. If old books are expurgated and new historical novels free from the taint of racism, who can then understand the pain of the past and the enormous courage of the people who stood against it?