Friday, August 23, 2019

Epitaph (Doc Holliday #2), by Mary Doria Russell (author), Hilary Huber (narrator)

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780062373960, March 2015

Mary Doria Russell returns to the American West in the late 19th century. The Earp brothers have left Dodge and are now in Tombstone, in the Arizona Territory. Doc Holliday was running a saloon with Kate, and then in a sanatorium for his tuberculosis, and has been trying to raise the money to go back for the full year he's told he needs there. But Wyatt Earp has a tooth he needs pulled, and he doesn't really trust anyone but Doc to do it.

So Doc Holliday is in Tombstone, too, with the Earps again. And in Tombstone, the tensions and conflicts are at work that will lead to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the aftermath.

This is not an easy story to describe briefly, because Russell isn't giving us just the Hollywood myth. She's done the work to recover the real story and the real characters, and the complexity of the social and political forces at work--as well as the aftermath for the survivors of the clash. The result is a rich, detailed, absorbing novel, filled with real characters of depth and complexity. It's a fascinating look at the American West in the 1870s and 1880s,

Included in this story are not just the Earps themselves and the Clanton gang, but also the Earp women, one of whom is Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for nearly fifty years, and worked hard to promote the myth about him and the famous gunfight, rather than a fuller and more complicated version of both the man and the events.

It's long, it's deep, it's not always an easy read, but it is worth your time and attention. Recommended.

I borrowed this audiobook from my public library.

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