“I read an interview in which Mahurin says that her inspiration for this novel was an old picture of two women standing close together looking fearful. It's uncommon for human beings to extrapolate meaning that doesn't relate directly to their own lives, so it speaks to her depth that she, a straight woman, instantly associated the scene with somebody else's plight - two lesbians afraid of revealing their relationship.
Mahurin brings that same emotional connection with humanity to her writing in the Persecution of Mildred Dunlap and does a great job of conveying how hurtful it is to be bullied and ostracized no matter how good and generous one may be.
That her lesbian characters were a bit stereotypical (as one other reviewer pointed out) is not something to hold against her. In 2012, we may have broken through those stereotypes, but stereotypes come from somewhere...oh guess where? Maybe 1895! But that's not the point of the novel.
I have to say, that as an out lesbian, I am not fond of stories about being a wimpy closet case, but back in 1895, that was part of the definition of being gay. That aside, this novel is not about homosexuality. It's about the two sides of human nature: small minded vs. tolerant, mean vs. kind, petty vs. generous.
The sad thing is that we don't always reap what we sow. Good people suffer. Villains go unpunished all the time. And unfortunately, no one will learn anything from this wonderful novel, as evidenced by the reviewer who (even after admitting it was a well-written riveting book) gave it a "thumbs down" because she doesn't want to have anything to do with "those people" (meaning homosexuals).
Mahurin has done her job, however. She has punished the villain for us. She's allowed her readers the catharsis that comes from a just and rightful ending, and for that I thank her.”