by Robert Hinson
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Sentence: Young Sallee opened the lid of her Grandmother Sug’s personal keepsake box as she helped her mother clean out the last remaining items from the room at the nursing home, where her grandmother had recently died at the age of eighty-three.
A Historical-Literary Romance. “An imbuing, romantic adventure illumining the friendship between two reporters, Sallee Fern and Katherine Anne Porter…with only one escaping ‘the Spanish Lady’s clutch.”
Its Name Was Enza is a novelette of 52 pages. The book is out of print, and incredibly hard to find. Even the publishing company no longer exists. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy during a family visit. My sister-in-law let me borrow a signed copy so I could review it. The author, Robert Hinson, wrote most of his work during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It is surprising to me that he no longer seems to have a presence in the online writer’s community— none of his work can be found even on Goodreads. All of it is out of print. Tragic. No doubt about it, this book is a real jewel!
The story explores the journals entries of Sallee Fern. The year is 1918, at the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic . Sallee has sent her infant daughter to live with a relative out in the country so that she stands a better chance of not falling victim to the Spanish flu. Sallee remains behind in Denver and starts a journal addressed to her daughter so that she may leave something behind as a record or memory should she succumb to the illness.
It gives us a first-hand account of the horrors of living during that time, where thousands of people succumbed to the highly contagious and dangerous strain of influenza. The outbreak was so bad that many local governments went as far as banning public gatherings. Schools closed down. Church and town gatherings ceased and funerals for the dead were limited to only the closest family members.
Salle and fellow journalist Katerine Anne Porter (sound familiar) are given the grim task of covering the story and keeping the public informed, which puts them both at a greater danger of contracting the disease themselves. The story is heartbreaking to the end.
If you can somehow manage to get ahold of a copy or file of this book, I highly recommend reading it. The Amazon listing has it as temporarily out of stock, but the only way you’ll find a copy there is if someone puts a used one up for sale. There are a few sites that claim to have a free pdf download, but I cannot verify that they are legitimate or safe. At any rate, keep your eyes open for it if you wish to gain a better understanding of this part of history.
This Spanish influenza treats everybody differently, as does love.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars