Side by Side

Written by Jenni L. Walsh
Review by Thomas j. Howley

In the early 1930s, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s quest for their own Holy Grail is their need to find “the farm” – a mythical refuge of solace and safety for the notorious young criminal couple. Clyde attains early release from a Texas prison but sadly fails to make an honest living during the ongoing Depression. Most of this riveting book consists of hundreds-of-miles long, circulating road trips punctuated by robberies, shootings and overnight camps. There are also many short interludes of sweet familial bliss ironically interrupted by frenetic bursts of gunfire and pursuit.

Definitely written from a woman’s perspective, the novel is told in the first person, present tense in Bonnie’s words. Still, this decidedly male reviewer found Walsh’s book magnetically appealing. The author captures the time period, the prose and the nostalgia superbly. The criminal protagonists are portrayed sympathetically, despite their horrendous crimes. It’s as if they’re caught in a hideous vortex notwithstanding their good intentions. Some may find the many colloquialisms annoying, but I suspect most will be charmed. History, romance, crime and action – a great book.