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The Silver Baron's Wife Paperback – September 15, 2016
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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: In this eloquent novel, Stein portrays the independent, eccentric, and resilient woman known as Baby Doe, a legendary figure from Colorado's silver boom. Elizabeth "Lizzie" McCourt Doe is a renowned beauty who moved from Wisconsin to Colorado in the 1870s so that her husband, Harvey Doe, could work in the silver mine that they partially owned. Confronted with his addictions and womanizing, Lizzie divorces Harvey. He heads home to Wisconsin, but she stays in Colorado out of shame and embarrassment. What later begins as an affair with Horace Tabor, a married silver magnate 30 years her senior, eventually turns into a loving marriage with two daughters. Though they are tremendously wealthy, the couple is shunned socially, and a financial crisis soon wipes out their fortune. As Lizzie's problems mount, she becomes reclusive, living alone in a cabin with her visions--holy images and complex dreams from her past, revealed to readers in a lyrical, meditative voice. Stein's blend of love story, scandal, and mystical experience is satisfying and entertaining.
From the Back Cover
At long last we get to hear Baby Doe's compelling side of the hurtful tale that made her the most hated woman in the West. Donna Baier Stein has captured young Lizzie's Doe's agency in her first marriage, as well as older Lizzie's Tabor's deep spiritual resilience during her decades of isolation.Through Stein's artistry, Baby Doe's story makes the heart ache. --Judy Nolte Temple, BABY DOE TABOR: THE MADWOMAN IN THE CABIN
Donna Baier Stein paints a heartfelt, poignant picture filled with loving details of Baby Doe's celebrated life that lingers long after the last page is turned.--Ann Parker, THE SILVER RUSH MYSTERY SERIES
Explosive, gripping andromantic... An absorbing read about a fiercely independent woman who charted her own course only to find herself paying the price.--Talia Carner, HOTEL MOSCOW
With sumptuous, tactile prose, rich historical detail, and an evocative recreation of the American West, The Silver Baron's Wife excavates the legend of Elizabeth McCourt Tabor to expose a character's humanity and soul.--Diane Bonavist, THE CATHARS
...a beautiful and absorbing novel, rich in history and vivid period detail...This is a moving and memorable book.--Ronna Wineberg, SEVEN FACTS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
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Multiple theories surround Elizabeth “Lizzie” Doe Tabor’s life, many of them harsh in their interpretation of her intentions. "The Silver Baron’s Wife" brings the reader right alongside Lizzie and into her mind throughout every step of her complicated and troubled life, which makes it difficult for the reader not to empathize with her. “I loved the fact that whatever worries I had . . . vanished as soon as I’d sunk below ground level. It was another world down there, magically distant from daily woes.” The author emphasizes that her interpretation is fictional, yet the sensory details on every page are so perfectly interwoven into the narrative that every scene is believable. I felt the excitement, the apprehension, the grief and the longing in the main character as she approached and experienced each new challenge.
Donna Baier Stein’s portrayal of the rough-and-tumble male world into which Lizzie immerses herself is vividly exciting. You don’t need to be a woman or a history lover to appreciate this rage-to-riches-to-rags-again story. After hesitantly reading the first page, I gladly became Lizzie’s companion until the very last poignant page, whereupon I returned to page one and felt tremendous satisfaction at having spent my time in her lifetime.
This is one of my favorite stories. I have other biographies of this couple and their daughter Silver Dollar. I have been to Leadville many times and of course have been to the Matchless mine and to the Tabor Opera House. It's a great historical love story.
This book was entertaining even though the author took some liberties with facts but is still a good read. I particularly loved her descriptions of the Ice Palace in Leadville. This was quite a big thing back then to try and bring people back to Leadville when the silver economy went bad. I've seen pictures and read about it but it was fun to "see" it through the Tabor's eyes.
Stein is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, and publisher of the highly respected Tiferet journal. Stein is an artful writer with a gift for visceral prose borne of poetic sensibilities. Her elegance is backed by meticulous research through which descriptions shine, tapping into the telling details of long lost pasts, such as the advice to sew rocks into the hem of a dress “to keep it from blowing in the high mountain winds” as well as to “sit with your back to the horses [in a coach] for a less bumpy ride.” Stein calls our attention to “green scrollwork that decorated the shiny black doors of a stagecoach,” brushing one’s teeth “with a mixture of honey and pulverized charcoal,” and the hawk on the lock of Lizzie’s (Baby Doe’s) trunk, “poised for flight,” its feathers quivering. At the end of life, Lizzie’s “toes had gnarled into their own odd sculptures.”
Yet it is Stein’s descriptions of opulence that I found most sumptuous, the women at the Tabor Opera House, “bustled, bonneted, and bejeweled” and the abundance of the opera house itself: “Crimson paint shimmered on the walls, and a thick crimson carpet muffled footsteps. Two huge brass chandeliers hung from the ceiling.” In describing the bedroom she shared with the love of her life, Horace Tabor, Lizzie tells us, “...silver boxes shone in a curio cabinet, a silver-backed mirror and brush lay atop my dressing table. The doors of my armoire were closed, but I knew there were thirty elegant gowns insides; two dozen pairs of shoes; feathered hats and beaded purses.”
Stein relates in Acknowledgements that she has been fascinated, if not obsessed with, Elizabeth McCourt Tabor since she was seven years old and learned of Baby Doe on a family vacation to Colorado. The Silver Baron’s Wife is obviously Stein’s passion project and we are the lucky recipients of her brilliant portrayal of this complex iconoclast and the life she led.