The Mrs. Tabor

Written by Kimberly Burns
Review by Anna Belfrage

It is late in the 19th century, and Colorado is experiencing something of a mining bonanza. Gold, silver—men from all over converge on the nascent state, hoping to make their fortune. And not only men: young Lizzie Doe is as eager as any man to better herself, which is why she bulldozes her husband, Harley, to jump at the opportunity.

Mr. Doe is not made of stern stuff. He gives up. Not so Lizzie—who by now has earned the nickname Baby Doe. When Harley returns home, she stays on, redirecting her “career” from miner’s wife to merchant’s companion. But Babe wants more out of life—much more. Which is why she sets her sights on the very, very rich Horace Tabor.

Baby Doe is an intriguing blend of hard-headed opportunism and innocence. Larger than life, this drop-dead-gorgeous young woman navigates the treacherous waters of Victorian society—not always with success—while keeping her eye on the prize: to become the Mrs. Tabor. The fact that there already is a Mrs. Tabor is irrelevant. It is close to impossible not to fall in love with bubbly, determined Baby Doe, but this reader feels the greatest admiration for the first Mrs. Tabor, who somehow manages to cling to her dignity throughout all the scandals.

Ms. Burns presents us with wonderfully drawn characters, equally wonderful little vignettes of descriptive writing, all this without ever losing pace. The historical setting is vividly brought to life, the complexities and challenges of frontier life offering the perfect backdrop to the beautiful butterfly that is Baby Doe. Life is not always easy for our protagonist, but Baby never, never gives up.

Ms. Burns delivers an excellent and engaging read. I will be keeping an eye out for future books by this talented writer.