Thursday, February 12, 2015

REVIEW: Babette

The Many Lives, Two Deaths & Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth
By: Ross Eliot

Genre: Memoirs, Social History, History, Gay & Gender Studies
Publisher: Heliocentric Press
Publication date: 1.8.2014
Pages: 309

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 2.10.2015

When Sage sent me the information on this book, I was immediately drawn in by the cover and the full title - Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths & Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth.  I have never started a novel before with so many questions in my head.  

I love memoirs, especially when they are about the regular, every day sort, even though that description is far from who Dr. Ellsworth really is.  Their are really no "good" words to say how much I love this book.  It was fascinating to find out all the different sides to this woman, to learn the things that she had gone through and been part of.  The book starts out pretty crazy, then gets a little slow, but quickly picks up the pace again once Ross meets her.  She is such an interesting person and I loved the stories that were told about her, the impression she left on this young man, and being able to see what he saw in her through his eyes.  Definitely an interesting story and one that I had a hard time putting down.  I just wanted to know more and more about her, and the author did not disappoint.

Book synopsis:
This narrative begins in 1998 when, in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually the basement pantry of a grand house owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor.
            Her past unfolds in stories, from the 1928 kidnapping in central Washington carried out by a mysterious wealthy French woman, to life in occupied Europe during World War II with the Czarist assassin of Rasputin a frequent houseguest.  The professor's later life experiences in America only create more intrigue, from teenage prostitution to her late-life sex reassignment, involvement in the Catholic Church and connections to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a notorious 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon.
            Eliot cared for Dr. Ellsworth until her death in 2002 before an entire class of students, however, the should covering her story has only partially raised and murkier secrets than ever suspected emerge.  Part memoir, part mystery, part history lesson - this true tale binds drama from classic Greek tragedy together with revelations worthy of the most bizarre fiction.  From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it's an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also for the city of Portland where they live.

About the author:
Ross Eliot is a writer, roofer, auto mechanic, DJ and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.  He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011 and the current internet journal Occupy the 2nd Amendment.

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