Fallen Women

Guest Author: Sandra Dallas

SDallas202R1Fifty years ago, when I was first married, I lived in Breckenridge, an old mining town on the verge of becoming a Colorado ski area. Our next door neighbor had been a prostitute, working at the Blue Goose, a Breckenridge brothel, in the 1920s or 1930s. She was a wiry, white-haired lady who wore blue jeans and a jeans jacket and liked to go fishing at dawn. She’d leave fresh fish on our door step for breakfast. And when there was a fire in town late one night, she pounded on our door to make sure we were awake, in case the fire spread.

She lived with her sister, and she was part of the town fabric. 

      In those days, old boys dominated western history writing, and they wrote about the naughty prostitutes who dressed in satins, drank champagne, and lived a high life. I knew different.  Prostitutes were ordinary women who had adapted their profession for a variety of reasons. I suspected our neighbor had “turned out” because she had been fast in her youth. But after researching the subject for nonfiction books I wrote on the West, I knew many women became prostitutes because of poverty, lack of opportunity, incest or rape. While there were indeed stylish women who operated out of elegant brothels, others lived sordid lives in vermin-ridden cribs. They were drug- and afallen 1lcohol-addicted, diseased, and miserable, and their careers lasted barely seven years. And there were those in between, middle class women like my neighbor. In Butte, the widows of miners sometimes worked in cribs in the daytime, when their children were in school.

      The subject of western prostitution has fascinated me ever since I lived in Breckenridge, and so it was only natural, I suppose, that when I decided to write a mystery, I chose to write about soiled doves, as they were called.

      My readers, however, aren’t really into explicit sex, so Fallen Women is no Fifty Shades of Gray.” In fact, Fallen Women may be the only novel about prostitution that doesn’t have a single sex scene. That makes it about two shades of gray. 

      Instead, Fallen Women is a book about a relationship between sisters. Prostitution is the backdrop (in the same way that quilting is the background of many of my other novels).

      In Fallen Women, the two sisters, Beret, a wealthy New York matron who runs a home for abused women and girls, and the much younger and wilder Lillie are estranged. When Beret discovers her sister has been murdered in a brothel in Denver, she is filled with guilt.  She determines to go west not only to identify the killer but to find out why Lillie chose the life she did. It is a story of good and evil and hate, but of love, too. Mostly, it is a story of women.

About Author:

Award-winning author, Sandra Dallas began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. While a reporter, she began writing the first of ten nonfiction books.  They include , which won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Wrangler Award, and The Quilt That Walked to Golden, recipient of the Independent Publishers Assn. Benjamin Franklin Award. Turning to fiction in 1990, Sandra has published twelve novels, including her latest, True Sisters and The Quilt Walk (a children’s book).

She was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine.  Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films. Both Prayers for Sale and True Sisters have been on the New York Times best-seller list. Sandra lives in Denver with her husband, Bob, and two daughters, Dana and Povy.

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