MacGregor’s Lantern

Written by Corinne Joy Brown
Review by Alice Logsdon

Determined to live a life less ordinary, Margaret Dowling has not lived up to society’s expectations of young women of her class. Inspired by the women’s suffrage movement, she has resisted the prescribed notion that marriage and children by age 20 is the only course to choose from. Now 30, Maggie lives at home with her parents, and is satisfied in her career as a teacher. However, when her father, a banker, brings home a prospective client, Sir Kerr McKennon of Colorado, her life takes an unexpected turn.

McKennon’s spontaneous proposal of marriage and her subsequent agreement give Maggie the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be true partner to her husband as he establishes his ranch in gorgeous South Park, Colorado, near Jefferson. Their plans are cut short by tragedy, and Maggie must assert her rights to her husband’s claims to realize her dreams of owning her own destiny.

It is obvious that the author studied and understands the elements that shaped the economic and political landscape of Colorado and Wyoming during the late 19th century. Her attention to detail in describing the physical landscape of South Park, and in the portrayal of her protagonist, shows the amount of care she has for her subject matter. However, despite all of this, there is just not enough dramatic tension to sustain interest. There is rich historical context, a love story, and an unsolved mystery, but Brown backs off from the decision to make the novel either one thing or the other.