Linda Loveland Reid’s first novel, Touch of Magenta, is an ambitious work that tells two interweaving stories. Pegeen’s, which is set in motion in 1895 by a forbidden inter-racial love, and Corri’s, whose mother’s death in 1971 tilts the course of an unsettled life.
I found Pegeen’s journey spellbinding and well rendered, while Corri’s machinations annoyed me. And at 38, Corri seemed more like the baby boomers, who were just coming of age in that era, than peers in her own generation. But Pegeen’s fortitude in the face of multiple losses, and the way Reid was able to deftly set the stage in Gold Rush-era California and other locales, more than compensated for what I perceive to be incongruities in Corri’s character. Plus, where would we be if all fictional characters were sympathetic—can you imagine a good-natured Scarlet O’Hara?
I was moved by this book and cared about what was happening as the stories unfolded and converged. I’d classify Touch of Magenta as a satisfying read. If you decide to purchase the book, though, be sure to get the second edition, which improves upon the first.
Reid, who is also a theater director and figurative painter, is someone to watch. She’s not imitating anyone else; she trusts her instincts and experiments with language to paint scenes with words and create dialogue that is crisp and genuine. I look forward to reading her next book.
Note: I know Linda Loveland Reid slightly. We both belong to Redwood Writers, a branch of the California Writer’s Club. But the branch has about 140 members, and Linda and I have probably spoken all of three times, so I did not feel obligated to plug her book.