By: Nancy Brandon
I recently read the book Dunaway's Crossing by Nancy Brandon and I quite enjoyed it. The book is set in Georgia in the year 1918. World War One is ending and soldiers are coming home to their loved ones. We are introduced to the book's leading protagonist, Bea Dot Ferguson (I admit the name is a bit much), who lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband Ben and their house keeper California (Cal for short). We quickly learn that Bea Dot is subjected to an abusive marriage and that she has suffered a miscarriage at the hands of her husband. There is a mystery behind the unborn child and Bea Dot appears to be ashamed about who fathered the baby. You must delve deeper into the book to find out the back story on Bea Dot's pregnancy and I won't spoil that for you here. After recovering from Ben's abuse and subsequent miscarriage, Bea Dot is determined to get away. Cal helps her reach out to her cousin Netta who lives in rural Georgia and is married to the town doctor. They set up for Bea Dot to go visit Netta for two weeks as that is the longest Ben will allow her out of his site. Bea Dot says goodbye to Cal and travels by train to Pineview, Georgia. Of note, I wish the author had allowed Cal's character to be a bigger part of the story. She seemed like a no-bullshit, tough lady who would be an ally to many, and I liked her.
A man named Will Dunaway picks Bea Dot up at the train station as a favor to Netta and her husband, as Netta is eight months pregnant and not in much condition to travel. Will has recently returned from war and has more than a few demons of his own to work through. He and Bea Dot make comfortable conversation on their way to Netta's house. Unfortunately, when they reach town Bea Dot learns that her and Netta must leave due to a new flu epidemic that is spreading rather quickly. Netta's husband has Will take them out of town to his country fishing cabin where they will stay until he can combat the flu that is raging through town. Upon arriving at the cabin, Will quickly realizes that it is no place for two women and immediately has them come stay at his place which doubles as a small country store. As time progresses, the flu does also. It ends up wiping out the entire town and much of the country. Bea Dot stays in rural Georgia much longer than two weeks and we see her relationship with Will blossom. Much takes place as the characters yearn to survive and strive to find ways to better their lives.
Dunaway's Crossing is much, much more than a love story. The author also has an amazing way with characters. Yes, the story focuses on Bea Dot and Will, but there are secondary story lines where we are introduced to wonderful characters that tie the book together. The book is a historical piece that paints a gritty picture of the separation of whites and blacks in the south, the plight of women with no rights, and a horrible sickness that cannot be stopped. The author did great research on the Spanish Flu, and did not hesitate to tell the reader the grim details of the disease and the horrible way people succumbed to it. My only complaint I have with the book is Netta's character. She is horribly annoying and that is putting it nicely. I had a hard time relating to anything she said because her character is negative and hateful. Thankfully, in the midst of all this chaos, Ms. Brandon creates a relationship worth rooting for and leaves you hoping for a happy ending. I would definitely recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction or anyone in need of a good love story surrounded by madness.
Let me know what you all think!
Until next time,