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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: A Land of Two Halves

A Land of Two Halves
by Joe Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Joe Bennett hitchhikes across New Zealand, and lives to write about it.

Bennett, a transplanted Brit living and working in New Zealand since 1987 (the book was published in 2004) clearly loves his adopted country, even though the conceit of this book is that it's about a quest to determine whether he should stay on in NZ after his elderly dog passes on, or return to England.

Written in a breezy style this travelogue follows the acerbic, middle-aged author as he makes his way first around the South Island, then the North.  While Bennett's wit can come across as sarcastic or negative, the strength of the book are the stories of the people he meets and the sense of place you get from them.   

Not quite a Bill Bryson or Tim Cahill, but an enjoyable read, especially if, like me, you've had an opportunity to travel in New Zealand yourself and so can compare notes (so to speak).

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