“Millie-Christine”August 13, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Posted in History, Nonfiction | 2 Comments
The great thing about history is that it’s always so much weirder than a fiction writer could ever possibly devise. Joanne Martell’s Millie-Christine is a classic example of this. A story about singing conjoined twin slave children who were kidnapped three times before the age of five would probably not make it past a book agent’s desk – if it were fiction. True story, on the other hand? Sold! And that’s just the first few chapters.
Not everyone digs history. A time before telephones, high speed travel, and modern medical science probably just seems too depressing to most people. Ah, but in the absence of these technological conveniences, what strange things would happen! If Millie-Christine were born this year instead of 1851, we might have seen her/their photo shortly before or after surgery, and she/they then would have fallen off the media radar. Many of the other events of the story would not have been possible in the age of the Internet, much less after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Millie-Christine is a rollicking tale full of National Enquirer-esque spectacle. You can enjoy reading it without embarrassment, though, seeing as how it’s a history book and all. It’s also full of period illustrations, including one rather shocking photo. You’ll close the book wondering how you ever got through life without knowing the story of this/these fascinating person/people.