Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bandit Queen-Jane Candia Coleman

Bandit Queen
Jane Candia Coleman
Leisure, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843963458

In 1886 she left Toledo Ohio to marry Frank Hart, but sixteen year old Pearl quickly learns her spouse is an abusive gambler. He wasted the money she earned singing at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Exposition; demanding she earn more. Unable to accept more from her nasty husband after he broke her ribs, Pearl runs away heading to Phoenix.

Frank follows her trail and continues his ugly treatment of his wife who loses hope. However, she feels relief she will have a breather when Frank enlists to fight in the Spanish-American War. With no income and her other choice being a whore Pearl robs a stagecoach. She becomes renowned as the Bandit Queen who is finally caught, escapes, but is captured again. In 1899 she is convicted of robbery after using a Women’s Rights defense based on the options society allowed her of marriage or prostitution and becomes the first female incarcerated at Yuma Penitentiary.

This is an enjoyable biographical fiction tale of a complex individual who rejects marital abuse and prostitution so she makes her own path in a society that allowed no other options for model class females. Fans will enjoy Jane Candia Coleman’s fine tale based on a true person that reminds the audience how far women have come from critical restrictions based on de facto racism and sexism..

Harriet Klausner

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