Dorie LaValle is married to a sweet, but incompetent farmer name Louie. Her education is from a one-room schoolhouse and she lives in near poverty. It’s 1928 in Anoka Country and people are desperate to drink. Dorie seizes a business opportunity and starts to serve moonshine to the locals from her kitchen. She is naïve to the dangers and consequences of her business and soon encounters the scorn of the women in the town, Chicago mobsters, and the zealous local sheriff.
She doesn’t care what the people think and flaunts the evidence of her profits by wearing flamboyant hats in a town where women wear dresses made from flour sacks. The moonshine business is a rebellion against her loveless marriage and her unhappy farm life and she fight to protect it.
Dorie is a survivor.
In preparation for writing this book, I researched the lives of women during the Prohibition era. It’s no secret they had to do it all without modern conveniences. They raised large families, nursed the sick, cooked meals for the farmhands, attended church, midwifed animals and babies alike, sewed clothes and canned vegetables. Often their children died. Their husbands may not have been of their choosing and divorce was rare. These women were survivors.
Dorie is sometimes prickly, selfish and stubborn beyond reason. She is often irritated at the world. A writer walks the line between wanting to create a sympathetic character that readers will fall in love with yet somehow make this character flawed and real? Eventually, Dorie realizes the deadly ramification of her business and tries to make amends. What I admire most about Dorie is her ability to press forward under duress—she grits her teeth and keeps going.
Like most fictional characters, Dorie is a patchwork of my experiences and the challenges of women in my life. My oldest daughter was born with multiple cardiac and lung anomalies, two of my husbands have died from cancer. In the middle of that, I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I have friends who are living with spouses that suffer from mental illness, alcoholism. Some of their children struggle with depression. Our elderly parents are starting to fail. Are we not all a bit like Dorie? Tough, enduring and determined to go on? Shouldn’t we give each other credit and support to be survivors in a tough world?