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Belle Cora by Phillip Marguiles

Belle Coraimage
Phillip Marguiles

The fictional memoir of an actual madam who ruled Gold Rush–era San Francisco.

This story is a showstopper. Arabella Godwin is a woman of strength and pliancy. A woman who suffered hardships, a woman forced to make choices as a matter of survival. She is authentic, inspiring and honest, making no excuses for her choices, she is unashamed.

Given the time period 1800’s and with little power or rights as a female, Godwin handles adversity and fortuity to the best of her ability. I found myself asking what I would have done in her circumstances, and I can understand her reasoning and end choices.

Marguiles was generous in introducing the reader to Godwin. He revisited her childhood in great detail starting the story with quite a back history which I welcomed, ultimately adding to her characterization. Puritanism was introduced and explored greatly in the early part of the narrative, once again remarkably accurate historically along with intricate research.

I enjoyed this book so much, I didn’t want it to end. Despite its length this was a fast read but I deliberately took my time because I enjoyed the writing and narrative. Each page turned revealed more and completely absorbed my attention.

Marguiles delivered with accurate composition fitting of the time period and people involved from varying backgrounds, very well done and often a miss in historical fiction.

Another area where Marguiles excelled was research. He obviously spent considerable time thoroughly researching Godwin and the years and setting sketched. His efforts accomplished thus creating a wonderful blend with fiction and nonfiction appearances.

I was completely impressed with Marguiles ability to create a novel from a woman’s perspective, absolutely brilliant. Much is bared by Godwin regarding her feelings and its impact is noticed given the author is male. How he pulled this off is amazing, he obviously grasps the female species. Godwin is a strong woman and Marguiles understood this and ran with it, not many men could have emphasized her strength and it was appreciated and marvelously carried out. All in all Godwin’s pizzazz was well done leaving me dazzled.

I highly recommend Belle Cora, fascinating woman, superb as a whole. Marguiles out did himself, excellent.

Recommendation: 4/5

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