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The Lily of the West Book Review: Booklist

The Lily of the West.
Morris, Kathleen (author).
Jan. 2019. 341p. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432847333). 813/.6.
REVIEW. First published December 15, 2018 (Booklist).

The tale of Kate Elder as told in her own words is a new take on the legend of the OK Corral. Born Katherine Horony, she’s just 14 when her aristocratic father’s career-slide takes them from Hungary to Iowa, where his death leaves Katherine on her own. When she loses her only child and her husband to cholera, Katherine—bright, talented, and well-educated at 22—recreates herself as Kate Elder, songstress in a St. Louis saloon. Kate falls in love with charming Doc Holliday, but after moving to Dodge City, Doc’s tuberculosis, his drinking, and the Earp family make life unpredictable, even dangerous. There’s plenty of gunplay, but Kate can defend herself. And how can she leave Doc when he needs her? Writing in first person, Morris gives the woman’s struggle an immediacy and poignancy not usually found in a traditional western. A good companion for Mary Doria Russell’s Doc (2011), this compelling debut will appeal to readers of any gender.

— Jeanne Greene