2015 Longlist

The Maid’s Version



2015 Longlist

The American master’s first novel since Winter’s Bone tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.

Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident?

Alma thinks she knows the answer – and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace – and peace for her sister. He is advised to “Tell it. Go on and tell it” – tell the story of his family’s struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Five of Daniel Woodrell’s eight published novels were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Tomato Red won the PEN West Award for the Novel in 1999. Woodrell lives in the Ozarks near the Arkansas line with his wife, Katie Estill.

Librarians’ Comments

In language reflecting the gritty, lilting voices of the Missouri Ozarks, Woodrell tells the story of a catastrophic dance-hall fire that shaped the future of a town and created as many secrets as it revealed. Woodrell smoothly moves from anguish to curiosity in his multi-generational tale of loss and redemption.

Down through years of questions, tales and hints we harken to indelible words revealing what took place that fateful night in 1928, when the Arbor Dance Hall turned into a hell on earth. After honing a breathtakingly spare, evocative prose style in his critically acclaimed country noirs, Woodrell has deftly crafted a haunting, enigmatic coming-of-age story much deeper than it is wide, in prose that invites comparison with the giants of Southern American literature.


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