A powerful story of friendship, love and betrayal, from a fantastic new voice.
In a high mountain valley, a group of disparate characters have set up a rudimentary community, held together by the formidable Emaline, hostess of the wayside inn. It is there that Alex, on the run from something, concealed under a false identity, finds refuge but that arrival brings dramatic change to Motherlode.
In the small settlement, no one asks questions about where you have come from or who you are. They all know each other's virtues and vices: the rules are few and their own justice swift, an Eden of a sort. But then Alex, who has discovered fellowship for the first time, finds a large gold nugget and with that one lucky strike, gold fever hits, everyone becomes a gold digger and outsiders of all kinds pour in. Houses, stores and streets replace the tents and mud paths. Wives, preachers, lawmen come to town and try to impose their order, their form of society on what they perceive as a lawless, godless community…and the past catches up with Alex.
So will the community betray their Golden Boy? Will Alex's true identity be discovered? Will the prejudice now present in the town be able to destroy Emaline and the rich spirit of her inn? Can Motherlode survive its gold rush?
About the author
Mary Volmer was born in Grass Valley, California and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a BA from Saint Mary's College, California, before completing a Masters degree at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth as a Rotary Scholar. She is currently the Agnes Butler Scholar at Saint Mary's College where she is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and lecturing in English/ Composition. This is her first novel.
Volmer's distinctive, beautifully written debut is set in the California gold rush country in the mid-19th century, when tensions and fortunes were as volatile as the ground prospectors mined. The story follows Emaline, proprietress of the Victoria Inn in Motherlode, who charges for providing room and board (and sometimes additional, special company) to the prospectors descending on Motherlode in search of the big find. She is captivated by a mysterious stranger, Alex, who barely speaks, keeps his hat tipped low, and is soon revealed to be a young woman runaway whose character and intentions come under close scrutiny. All the while, Emaline keeps a maternal eye on "Golden Boy" Alex as she exhaustively and successfully navigates the gold mines. Soon after Alex's gender ambiguity begins to have unexpected consequences, trouble finds Emaline because of her relationship with a black man. Volmer's prose is taut and restrained, moving the story along at a healthy clip as her hardscrabble characters rumble and stumble through their dusty domain. Volmer's found a fat vein of gold in some heavily mined territory.