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The Last Days of Dogtown


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About the Author

Anita Diamant is the bestselling author of the novels The Boston Girl, The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown, and Day After Night, and the collection of essays, Pitching My Tent. An award-winning journalist whose work appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting, she is the author of six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at


There's no such thing as a minor character or supporting role in Diamant's lush tale of early 19th-century Cape Cod. The book spans two decades in Dogtown (also memorialized by poet Charles Olson), a lowlife, poverty-stricken community surely worthy of its name, yet in close proximity to larger, richer towns. Dogtown has its share of suicides, feuds, prostitutes, bitter old men, and deceit, in addition to two former slaves who have been given their freedom. Oliver, age 12 and playing a minor role when the novel opens, becomes the thread linking several characters. Like his namesake, Oliver Twist, his small criminal acts make him all the more endearing. Some aspects of the tale, such as a romance between a black freedman and a white woman who has tried to close herself off from loving anyone, are subtly downplayed, as are other elements that might have added to the structure of brasher novels. While many similar books have required at least a male and a female narrator, Kate Nelligan conveys each perspective smoothly; the voice itself doesn't change, yet listeners have no trouble discerning the speaker. Highly recommended.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with Soho Weekly News, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Fans of Diamant's The Red Tent who were disappointed by her sophomore effort (Good Harbor) will be happy to find her back on historical turf in her latest, set in early 1800s Massachusetts. Inspired by the settlement of Dogtown, Diamant reimagines the community of castoffs-widows, prostitutes, orphans, African-Americans and ne'er-do-wells-all eking out a harsh living in the barren terrain of Cape Ann. Black Ruth, the African woman who dresses like a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, who runs the local brothel, and Judy Rhines, an unmarried white woman whose lover Cornelius is a freed slave, are among Dogtown's inhabitants who are considered suspect-even witches-by outsiders. Shifting perspectives among the various residents (including the settlement's dogs, who provide comfort to the lonely), Diamant brings the period alive with domestic details and movingly evokes the surprising bonds the outcasts form in their dying days. This chronicle of a dwindling community strikes a consistently melancholy tone-readers in search of happy endings won't find any here-but Diamant renders these forgotten lives with imagination and sensitivity. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

[A] superb historical novel.

-- Baltimore Sun
[Diamant's] theme -- that life teems even as it dwindles -- has all the more power for its subtle, unsentimental articulation.

-- The Washington Post
A quiet tribute to love's power.

-- The Miami Herald
An excellent novel.

-- The New York Times Book Review
The book has a compelling, page-turning pull...with spare yet vividly descriptive prose.

-- The Boston Globe
The book is haunting.... [It] will linger with you for days.

-- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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