A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley eBook

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A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley PDF Free”. An astounding “mash-up of a Western, a serial-killer mystery, and a feminist-inflected account of life in a bordello” from the Pulitzer Prize–winning, best-selling author of A Thousand Acres (The Washington Post). You may love to read another novel Foster by Claire Keegan book.

Eliza and Jean, two young prostitutes who are best friends, struggle to survive in a lawless town on the edge of the Wild West in 1850s Gold Rush California as the Civil War looms on the horizon. The town is a seductive blend of beauty and danger.

“Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because between you and me, being a woman is a risky business, and everyone knows that this is a deadly industry.”

A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley
A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley

1851 in Monterey. Eliza Ripple has been employed at a brothel ever since her husband was slain in a bar brawl. At first, it appears to be a better existence. The guys are (mostly) well-behaved, the madam, Mrs. Parks, is nice, and Eliza has reached something that few women do: financial security. But when young women’s dead bodies start turning up outside of town, she is forced to face a darkness. Alongside her companion Jean and motivated by the detective Dupin from Edgar Allan Poe, Eliza pieces together a variety of evidence to try to identify the killer while juggling clients who start to act suspiciously more and more.

As the impending Civil War looms on the horizon, Eliza and Jean are determined not only to live, but also to find their place in a lawless town on the edge of the Wild West—a beguiling combination of beauty and peril. Being a woman is a risky business, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, as Mrs. Parks says, “Everyone understands that this is a deadly industry.”

The murder mystery A Dangerous Business takes place in Monterey, California, in 1851, at the height of the Gold Rush. It comes after Smiley’s endearing, amusing story Perestroika in Paris, about a variety of quarrelling, talking animals—including the titular racehorse—living in the streets of Paris’ Champs du Mars.

Setting up her most recent: When several of the women in their risky line of work vanish, two young prostitutes get apprehensive since neither the sheriff nor the neighbourhood vigilantes appear to be concerned. They conclude it’s up to them to unravel the riddle, even at the risk of more danger.

Eliza and Jean are determined to use logic and observation in the manner of Detective Dupin from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” to identify who killed their missing coworkers. One is a young widow relieved to be free of her abusive older husband, the other is an adventurous, shape-shifting cross-dresser with a dark secret in her past.

After her husband was killed in a bar fight, Eliza turned to sex work because she had few other possibilities for self-supporting job. She thinks it better to put an end to her burgeoning passion with an Irish Catholic labourer back home in Kalamazoo than the terrible marriage her Covenanter parents forced her into.

The majority of her clients agree that her madam Mrs. Parks is more kinder and more protective than either her husband or parents ever were. Eliza has no plans to go back to Michigan where she was born.

Eliza’s sidekick Jean is a less developed character; she works in a place that caters to ladies, the majority of whom are in desperate need of some love. As with other historically dubious facts in this book, the presence of such a brothel in 19th-century Monterey defies belief but does not diminish the enjoyment of the story.

The appealing heroes of Smiley’s stories value their jobs for their relative independence and financial stability. They are not only tolerant of but empathetic to their clients’ loneliness and physical demands, which results in a remarkably positive opinion of working in a brothel, to put it mildly again.

No solicitation for them: Mrs. Parks carefully screens Eliza’s male clients and also hires a guard to safeguard her “girls” from harm. Yes, the book makes it apparent that it’s a risky endeavour; but, Mrs. Parks reminds Eliza that being a woman is also risky. The characters in Smiley’s works treat their work as if it were just another service sector, such as plumbing or housecleaning, but with better remuneration.

Being Smiley characters, the amateur sleuths enjoy riding horses, which they do on their days off when they travel outside the town to the nearby canyons and woodlands in quest of leads. They do not discover gold in those hills.
Eliza grows sceptical of all of her clients as the bodies and evidence mount, including the drunks, lonesome lechers, sex-starved sailors, chatty lawyer with a dagger in his jacket pocket, and “the evangelical who wept and puked and passed out.” Even the amiable young rancher who enjoys taking her out for breakfast begins to raise questions in her mind.

After her “work” hours, Eliza is frequently too frightened to get home by foot down desolate, foggy streets. Smiley includes several gruesome corpses and a few alleged ghost sightings to heighten the dread. However, compared to Poe’s stories, the overall impression isn’t nearly as unsettling. By downplaying the psychological elements of her novel, Smiley keeps the tone light, and her sane couple don’t appear particularly affected by anything. The outcome resembles a fragrant Poe potpourri.

Of course, Smiley has drawn inspiration from classic literature in the past. Shakespeare’s King Lear served as the model for A Thousand Acres, her 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Her adaptation of Boccaccio’s Decameron is found in Ten Days in the Hills. She responded to Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. The idea that lives are a mixture of good fortune and terrible luck, best managed by improvising and being light on one’s feet, runs across the majority of her work, including A Dangerous Business.

The most recent Smiley book is both a murder mystery and a bildungsroman. Eliza is illiterate yet by no means unintelligent, despite her early ignorance of so much. She learns everything from her international clientele, the books they gift her like David Copperfield and A Scarlet Letter, and overheard conversations concerning the looming likelihood of a civil war in the United States and the country’s division over slavery.

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