“The Key on the Quilt” by Stephanie Grace Whitson takes place in Dawson County Nebraska in 1876. Jane Prescott Marquis is riding home from a barn dance with her second husband Owen and her daughter Rose. She is rightfully scared to death of Owen who has abused Jane physically and verbally ever since her marriage to him after the death of her first love and husband, Thomas. Her sin this night is enjoying a dance with the kindly town doctor, Max Zimmer. Dr. Zimmer has kept Jane’s secret while tending her various injuries at Owen’s hand.
The next chapter in the novel takes place at the women’s prison in Lincoln Nebraska. Jane is serving a 10 year sentence for manslaughter in the death of one Owen Marquis. I felt as helpless as this poor woman while reading her story. There is something that doesn’t add up, but we are not privy to this information until the story’s end. Jane’s daughter Rose has been taken in by Jane’s sister Flora. Flora has decided that it is in Rose’s best interest that she believes that her mother is dead. Dr. Zimmer tries to keep in touch with Jane and indeed, persists is petitioning the governor and anyone who will listen to commute Jane’s sentence because of the circumstances.
I really liked this story. It gave great insight into the prison system in our country at this time, especially in the west. The story had many mini-stories told about the other prisoners, the wardens, guards and townspeople. I think you will enjoy this book and be hard-pressed to put it down until the end.
I received a free Kindle copy of this book for my honest review from the publisher, Barbour Publishing. The opinions expressed here are my own.