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Dorie La Valle: A Minnesota Story of Moonshine and Murder - A Novel {FIRST EDITION}

DesJarlais, Mary

67 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0878393668 / ISBN 13: 9780878393664
Published by North Star Press of Saint Cloud, Inc, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, 2011
Condition: Fine Soft cover
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"In luminous prose and with a powerful sense of drama, Mary DesJarais brings us a new kind of hero in the person of Dorie La Valle who has the grit and brains to survive both the challenges of Prohibition as a moonshiner and the impossible odds of finding her way through the backroads of the human heart. DesJarais is a gifted storyteller, one who makes you lose yourself in a tale so fascinating you stay up all night reading and call in sick the next day, unable to forget the wonderful, heady mixture of beauty, humor, and brutal reality that saturate these pages. This novel announces Mary DesJarais as a bright star raising on the literary landscape. It will move, disturb, and haunt you in the best way with its poetic intensity, its originality, and its tough, no holds barred characters." {Jonis Agee}. This book has 316 pages. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 064775

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dorie La Valle: A Minnesota Story of ...

Publisher: North Star Press of Saint Cloud, Inc, Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Pictorial Softcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition

About this title


A Minnesota story of moonshine and murder. Born on the first day of 1900, Dorie finds herself at odds with the world and out of options. When she marries Louie LaValle, a local man with an inherited farm, but not the talent or stamina to run it, Dorie is anchored in poverty, childless and tied to someone she doesn't love. Prohibition and desperation inspire Dorie to make and sell moonshine to the men in town; soon she makes more money than she ever dreamt possible. To expand production, she enlists free-wheeling Victor, who builds a secret distillery in the woods. When Victor appears at her door with a gunshot wound, describing an ambush at the still, it s up to Dorie to protect her future and Victor against angry neighbors, a zealous sheriff, and the Chicago mob.


Mary DesJarlais makes her debut as a novelist with this tale of Prohibition-era Minnesota, so you might think of her as a sapling in the field of historical fiction. But in Dorie LaValle (North Star Press, 320 pages, $14.95), she skillfully avoids a trap that has ensnared the work of many full-grown Sequoias of the realm -- the temptation to bury a good story under an avalanche of research the narrative doesn't need. DesJarlais, of St. Paul, keeps her novel from turning into a historical tract by focusing on the physical and emotional dramas of her title character, inspired by a great-aunt who sold moonshine in Osseo during the 1920s. Dorie LaValle has married a hapless potato farmer who lacks the energy and inclination to support her. And she fantasizes about owning a store stocked with silk hosiery and fragrant soaps, though not in tiny Osseo: "Not where women made do by fashioning dresses out of flour sacks and wore threadbare, darned undergarments. No, it would have to be in a big, fine city like Minneapolis where the women would know the importance of surrounding themselves with fine things." Lacking the money to open a shop, Dorie makes and sells moonshine with the help of a partner, Victor Volk, who has built a hidden distillery amid the pines. She runs a thriving business out of her kitchen until Victor suffers a gunshot wound inflicted by an intruder at the still, where a body soon turns up. As residents of Osseo begin to question what happened, she runs afoul of her neighbors, the sheriff and a gangster from Chicago. This plot might seem to set up a white-knuckle thriller, but "Dorie LaValle" evolves into something quieter and closer to a love story. As Dorie gets unexpected support from another wife, it also becomes a celebration of female friendship. An implicit theme of the book is that if people associate the Roaring '20s with flappers and jazz clubs, many women led far less glamorous lives. A friend tells Dorie: "The men in my life never looked at me as something of value. They only saw me as something pretty to touch." "Dorie LaValle" reminds us that the sounds of the 1920s included the stifled roar of women who suffered injustices far beyond the reach of the patent medicines like Lydia Pinkham's Compound that were routinely prescribed for their "female troubles." --Janice Harayda, former book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, is the author of The Accidental Bride (St. Martin's, 1999).

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