Review: The Bad Reputations, by Karen V. Robichaud

Book cover: Three young women in 1920s clothing, a fishing village, and the title: The Bad Reputations, by Karen V. Robichaud.

The Bad Reputations, by Karen V. Robichaud (Word Alive Press, 2023)

In 1929, desperate to provide for themselves in a small town that’s turned against them, three young women choose to become rum-runners. They know it’s illegal and dangerous, and it doesn’t sit well with their faith, but they see no other way.

Local superstition blames Duska for the accidental death of her fisherman husband—because she’d been helping him on his boat and superstition marks a woman on board as bad luck. Larkin’s rum-running father has been killed by the mob, leaving her to care for her young brother. And Jolene is fleeing an abusive relationship when everyone tells her to stay and be a submissive wife.

The Bad Reputations is a compelling tale of courage, loyalty, and friendship in a fictional Nova Scotian town during Prohibition, when women’s options were limited. It takes an honest look at how people of integrity, including Christians, can find themselves making the wrong choices out of fear. The results we see are characters whose guilt makes them feel separated from God, avoiding Him instead of drawing close.

A different type of turmoil honestly addressed is Duska’s unexpected attraction to one of the police officers when she’s still grieving for her husband.

As well as strongly-defined characters, there’s some evocative description. Here’s one of my favourite samples:

The moon is hidden behind clouds in a charcoal sky. Darkness falls like a blanket over the ocean. Far out, green buoy lights flash, but nothing else. The vast blackness makes me uneasy. …I drive through the quiet streets of town. Yellowish-white fog slithers over the road like long, fat pythons. [paperback, pages 62-63]

The Bad Reputations is award-winning author Karen V. Robichaud’s seventh novel. Previous works include Tears in the Desert and The Unforgiving Sea. For more about the author and her books, visit her Author Page on Facebook.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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