Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Maid's Version

Finished March 12
The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell

The summer he was twelve, Alek Dunahew lived with his grandmother Alma at the house she worked at in West Table, Missouri. She poured out to him the story she was haunted by, the story that never got resolved, the story of the explosion at the local dance hall in 1929 in which her sister Ruby died. Forty-two people were killed that night and many more injured. The investigation never found the culprits behind the tragedy, but Alma never let it go and she gains some peace in telling Alek.
This book tells of Alma and Ruby's life before the tragedy. We see Alma's husband and learn his fate. We see Ruby's love of life and how one man drew her like no other. We see Alma's three young boys and learn their fates: Sidney, who was sickly, and died young; James, who tried to take revenge, but fled instead; and Jean Paul, Alek's father, who supported his mother as he was able, who found parental figures in others, and who, after years after closing his ears to his mother, finally allows his son to tell the story.
Interspersed with the story of the Dunahews is the story of other people who died or whose lives were changed that night, from young couples to reformed men trying to live an honest life. This is a story of images, of passion and betrayal, of love and of loss.

For another, very different, story of justice denied, see Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus.


  1. I have heard good things about this but just never got around to it. One day!

    1. It is a short novel, but moves around a lot so you need to be in a place where you won't get distracted.