The Secret Story of a Mormon Turned Madam
by Alison L. McLennan
Pub Date: 10/31/20
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-64599-135-9
The priceless ruby necklace secretly given to fifteen-year-old Ophelia Oatman by her dying mother isn’t easily given away—nor is her virginity. But Ophelia must choose between them. The necklace becomes both Ophelia’s ticket to freedom and the shackles of her shame. Fate, family legacy, hair color, the shape of her skull, sex, survival, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the tension between Mormons and Gentiles in the Utah Territory all converge to shape her destiny.
Ophelia’s War chronicles the battles for love and survival fought by a young frontier girl in the nineteenth century: her limited choices between polygamy and prostitution, the high cost of keeping the jewels her mother gave her, and the impossibility of protecting them. In an era when many women committed suicide rather than be shunned and have to face the shame of being labeled “damaged goods,” the rebellious and resilient Ophelia uses disgrace and the “rubies of her ruin” to reinvent herself and work her way towards financial freedom. Yet what is the ultimate cost? Can love and reconciliation triumph over her loss and shame?