The Passion of Dellie O'Barr

Cindy Bonner, Author
Cindy Bonner, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $18.95 (362p) ISBN 978-1-56512-103-4
Hardcover - 978-0-614-09704-7
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Following the acclaimed Lily and its sequel, Looking After Lily, Bonner's third novel is engagingly narrated by Lily's younger sister, Dellie, a 20-year-old housewife who becomes an adulterer, an arsonist and, later, a hero of the women's suffrage movement. Like its predecessors, this story is set in the real-life town of McDade, Tex., and is loosely based on a real event-the burning, in 1896, of the town's largest business. After a ""satisfactory"" two-year marriage to wealthy rancher Daniel O'Barr, 32, Dellie finds herself attracted to a poor tenant farmer, Andy Ashland. A champion of Populist causes like a woman's right to vote, Andy cares for his two young children while his wife is an insane asylum. When Daniel goes away on business, Dellie attends Populist meetings, writes for the party newspaper and begins an affair with Andy. Yet, after promising to run away with her, the tenant farmer mysteriously disappears with his children. Angry and disillusioned, Dellie sets fire to a store whose owner has exploited the area's farmers, then flees to Louisiana to look for her lover. Eventually, she must decide whether to remain a fugitive or to return to McDade to confess her crime to her husband-and to the sheriff. The crisp prose, absorbing historical detail and appealing characters (including Lily, who makes a welcome cameo at novel's end) will please admirers of the author's McDade Cycle series. (Mar.)
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