Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent" is one of my all-time favorite books. So when I saw "The Last Days of Dogtown" in the bargain section at Half Price Books a few years ago, I grabbed it. It took me a long time to get to, however, and it rested in my pile of "to be read" books. Finally this summer it got its chance!
The story is about a real village called Dogtown, situated on a desolated and rocky pennisula on Cape Ann, off the coast north of Boston. Based on actual history, the story follows the last inhabitants of Dogtown as they slowly die or move elsewhere with their lives, the great majority of them women who were outcasts of "normal" society. Their stories are gracefully interwoven in this novel, and the cast of characters grows on you until at the end, you are sorry to leave them behind but satisfied to know their various destinations.
Most moving to me was the story of the relationship between Judy Rhines, independent and lonely spinster, and the freed slave, Cornelius Finson, which is spun bit by bith through the entire book. Additionally, I loved the sense of community and caring (aside from a few individuals) that develops between the group of outcasts and how they help each other survive with dignity.