Review of On the Rocks: A Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery by Sue Hallgarth

Love, love, love.

I picked up this short mystery while at the library and read it on the plane to California two weeks ago. At first I was a bit skeptical – Willa Cather and Edith Lewis solving mysteries?? But I have to say, I really enjoyed this delightful delving into the personalities of Willa and Edith and the “Cottage Girls” of the early 20th century.

About fifteen years ago I went through a “Cather phase”, where I read all her writings and some biographies on her. I found her so interesting and such a gifted writer. Edith Lewis, for those who don’t know, was Willa’s partner and closest friend. This book made them come alive, along with their other female friends, a group of independent and educated women who summered on Grand Manan in the 1920’s and were known collectively as the “Cottage Girls”.

The mystery itself was enjoyable and well-plotted, I thought. In essence, Edith is painting one day when she witnesses a body plunging off a cliff to the rocks below. Is it an accident – or murder?

Highly recommended to those who enjoy this historical genre, and to fans of great women authors! I’ll be curious to see if Ms. Hallgarth has this as the start of a series or not. She is an expert on Cather and clearly “knows” her well.