The playful alternate title of Kevin Brennan’s novel Town Father, “Where Graceful Girls Abound,” gives a strong hint of the boisterous nature of the book itself.
The setting is 1880s California, and the premise is as old as Aristophanes: three hundred women journey to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in order to found a town named Hestia, which is to be populated only by women. But among the strong personalities of Hestia’s founders, there are plenty of minds clear enough to know that if the town is going to survive, it needs procreation, Which comes in the form of one obliging man who will do the necessary in order to help out. That man is Henry O’Farrell, a kindly soul with a complicated back-story of his own.
Brennan does a wonderful job of bringing this off-kilter utopia to life in a narrative that is both highly entertaining and genuinely moving.