An excellent novel. A lovely and moving portrait of society's outcast living in an unforgiving and barren but harshly beautiful landscape. New York Times Book Review
In the early nineteenth century there was once a place called Dogtown. Located on a rocky outcrop at the northernmost boundary of Massachusetts Bay, it was a miserable place really, less a village than a motley collection of people who had nowhere else to go. Yet the end of a village, even one as poor and small as Dogtown, is not an altogether trivial thing.
With a sure and delicate touch, Anita Diamant shares compelling secrets and sadnesses, interweaving the lives of the mysterious black African woman Ruth, who dresses as a man; the child Sammy, who arrived in Dogtown with a note attached to his coat; the touching and tender love story of Judy Rhines and Cornelius; and presiding over all, the benign and diminutive Easter Carter, host of what passes as the local tavern.
The Last Days of Dogtown vividly brings to life an unforgettable community of eccentrics and misfits - the forgotten people of the New World who live on the fringes of polite society. With great depth of feeling, Diamant shows us the essential humanity of these quiet, small lives, lived in that harsh, windswept landscape and under that bright sky.
There will be much celebration when Anita Diamant's fans discover this gem on the shelves of their favourite bookstore. Armidale Express
Fans of Diamant's The Red Tent who were disappointed by her sophomore effort (Good Harbor) will be happy to find her back on historical turf in her latest, set in early 1800s Massachusetts. Inspired by the settlement of Dogtown, Diamant reimagines the community of castoffs widows, prostitutes, orphans, African-Americans and ne'er-do-wells all eking out a harsh living in the barren terrain of Cape Ann. Black Ruth, the African woman who dresses like a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, who runs the local brothel, and Judy Rhines, an unmarried white woman whose lover Cornelius is a freed slave, are among Dogtown's inhabitants who are considered suspect even witches by outsiders. Shifting perspectives among the various residents (including the settlement's dogs, who provide comfort to the lonely), Diamant brings the period alive with domestic details and movingly evokes the surprising bonds the outcasts form in their dying days. This chronicle of a dwindling community strikes a consistently melancholy tone readers in search of happy endings won't find any here but Diamant renders these forgotten lives with imagination and sensitivity.