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The Silver Baron's Wife
The Silver Baron's Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado's Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). This fascinating heroine worked in the silver mines and had two scandalous marriages, one to a philandering opium addict and one to a Senator and silver baron worth $24 million in the late 19th century. A divorcee shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor's Opera House, and after her second husband's death, moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine in Leadville. She lived the last 35 years of her life there, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social expectations by working where 19thcentury women didn't work, becoming the key figure in one of the West's most scandalous love triangles, and, after a devastating stock market crash destroyed Tabor's vast fortune, living in eccentric isolation at the Matchless Mine. An earlier version of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction.
In this eloquent novel, Stein portrays the independent, eccentric, and resilient woman known as Baby Doe, a legendary figure from Colorado’s silver boom. Elizabeth “Lizzie” McCourt Doe is a renowned beauty who moved from Wisconsin to Colorado in the 1870s so that her husband, Harvey Doe, could work in the silver mine that they partially owned. Confronted with his addictions and womanizing, Lizzie divorces Harvey. He heads home to Wisconsin, but she stays in Colorado out of shame and embarrassment. What later begins as an affair with Horace Tabor, a married silver magnate 30 years her senior, eventually turns into a loving marriage with two daughters. Though they are tremendously wealthy, the couple is shunned socially, and a financial crisis soon wipes out their fortune. As Lizzie’s problems mount, she becomes reclusive, living alone in a cabin with her visions—holy images and complex dreams from her past, revealed to readers in a lyrical, meditative voice. Stein’s blend of love story, scandal, and mystical experience is satisfying and entertaining. (BookLife)