Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell is a great historical fiction novel, dealing with issues including class, gender, and victim blaming. It is the story of Espy Estrada, a fisherman’s daughter who is in love with the wealthy Warren Brentwood. After a bad rumor is spread about Espy, readers watch how this affects Espy’s life and her relationships with others. The book takes a relevant issue of today – the shaming of victims – and puts it in the interesting historical setting of 1892 Maine.
I liked Espy’s character; she showed a lot of strength and perseverance. The writing was really good, and as the story progressed, I found myself excitingly waiting to hear what happened next. I liked reading about Espy’s family and her relationship with her sister Angela. It was educational to observe the class and social structures presented in the book. This book was an excellent read, and I’d love to read more works by Ruth Axtell.
I found it interesting to evaluate the different ways of victim blaming in the book. Some characters didn’t necessarily blame Espy, but they jumped to conclusions. I think this book would be intriguing to discuss in a book club. It was also interesting that [spoiler alert!] the incident with Mr. Stockton wasn’t addressed until after 200 pages in the book; I felt like we were able to adequately get a good background on Espy and the other characters before that. I thought Mr. Stockton was a well-crafted character, making him a multi-faceted villain to analyze.
I received a review copy from Moody Publishers. You can buy the book here on Amazon.