The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher

Book - 2008
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Becky Thatcher wants to set the record straight. She was never the weeping ninny Mark Twain made her out to be in his famous novel. She knew Samuel Clemens before he was "Mark Twain," when he was a wide-eyed dreamer who never could get his facts straight. Yes, she was Tom's childhood sweetheart, but the true story of their love, and the dark secret that tore it apart, never made it into Twain's novel.

Now married to Tom's cousin Sid Hopkins, Becky has children of her own to protect while the men of Missouri are off fighting their "un-Civil" War. But when tragedy strikes at home, Becky embarks on a phenomenal quest to find her husband and save her family---a life journey that takes her from the Mississippi River's steamboats to Ozark rebel camps, from Nevada's silver mines to the gilded streets of San Francisco.

Time and again, stubborn but levelheaded Becky must reconcile her independent spirit and thirst for adventure with the era's narrow notions of marriage and motherhood. As she seeks to find a compromise between fulfillment and security, she also grapples with ghosts of her past. Can she forgive herself, or be forgiven, for the lies she's told to the men she's loved? Will she ever forget the maddening, sweet-talking, irresponsible Tom Sawyer, the boy who stole her heart as a little girl? And when she is old, and Huck and Tom and Twain only memories, whose shadow will still lie beside her?

Publisher: New York, NY : St. Martin's Press, 2008.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780312373276
Branch Call Number: HAR
Characteristics: 371 pages ; 24 cm

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Jun 10, 2011

Becky is Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn fanfiction as historical romance. The overarching conceit is that the stories of Mark Twain are really memoirs with only the names changed. Lenore Hart's Becky then is the 'true' stories behind the memoirs where even Mark Twain himself appears as Sam Clemens - friend and playmate of Becky, Tom, Huck, Sid and the rest. On the whole, this is a fun idea. Even the re-imagining of the familiar Tom Sawyer / Huck Finn events to portray Becky as the true hero of all the adventures is not without its narrative merit.

Becky, though, fails because it portrays Becky Thatcher as a thoroughly 21st century girl in a 19th century world. Her behaviour and thought is that of a girl from the future.

And, Becky fails because it sees the 19th century not through the eyes of its characters but through the eyes of a 21st century historical 'tourist'. There are far far too many digressions to describe this quaint world.

The result is both a slow narrative that feels out of place. It never feels 'right'. Tom, Huck, Jim, Becky, Sid, the Judge are all there and yet they seem ill-fitting to the story.

I simply didn't like this story.

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