[Former Downers Grove resident Mim Eichmann of Wheaton has penned her first novel.]
"Following her mother's sudden death, 13-year-old Hannah Owens is hired as domestic help by a wealthy doctor's family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress's brothel, Hannah is thrown into a world of gold mining corruption, rampant prostitution and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the late 19th century. Two of Cripple Creek, Colorado's most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, the eccentric multimillionaire owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of the Old Homestead, come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds."
It's a story of female empowerment and about women of all walks of life, said Eichmann, a songwriter and prize-winning short story writer.
While Hannah Owens, the first-person narrator, is a complete invention by Eichmann, the author stuck to history for the depiction of Stratton, a prospector before he struck a rich vein of gold at the Independence Mine.
"He was a ruthless man in many ways, [but] had a great deal of talent as well," Eichmann said, noting a biography about him is titled "Midas of the Rockies."
She has been living with the characters since her research began in 1990, the story evolving as her research grew exponentially.
"I was always adding to it as I was reading more things. … The sketch was getting colored in," she said.