Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace - Book review
By: Joseph Wallace
Published: May 4, 2010
Format: Trade Paperback, 480 pages
Teenager Ruby Thomas is faced with raising her two young nieces, following the tragic loss of their family in the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. Ruby tries her hand unsuccessfully at numerous unsafe and ill paying jobs, but her talent as a left handed pitcher possessing a blazing fastball, helps to provide a living for them. Set against the ballyhoo and glitz of the Roaring Twenties, author Joseph Wallace recreates a world both exciting and dangerous in his home run of a novel, Diamond Ruby.
Peopling his wonderful novel with larger than life characters including New York Yankee superstar Babe Ruth and boxing legend Jack Dempsey, Joe Wallace draws the reader into the spirit of the Jazz Age. The author also takes the reader into the dangerous underside of New York City, where gamblers, bootleggers, and quick buck artists ply their deadly trades. Into this Prohibition world of speakeasies and fast money, Ruby Thomas charms the reader with her courage and conviction. Facing the severe obstacles of sex discrimination, Ruby pours her energy into her pitching career, and in keeping her family intact. Joseph Wallace brings the 1920s to life, with its pretentious of being the modern world, along with the age old themes of good and evil. Ruby Thomas is no crusader, but is carries her convictions and courage to the end, as she makes her way in what was considered a man's world. As Diamond Ruby, she is a teenaged female pitching sensation, but as Ruby Thomas, she is a protector and provider for her two young nieces. The duality of her life reflects the duality of life in the Roaring Twenties as well.
Joseph Wallace (photo left) presents an allegory of America in tumultuous Prohibition America, where crime, greed, and corruption are a way of life. At the same time, baseball presents a balance to the seedier side of life. Faced with challenges from gamblers and bootleggers, baseball as the symbol of all that is good about America, represents hope and a brighter future. Ruby and the sport are intertwined, as baseball too is her chance for a better life. Its darker side is a metaphor of Ruby's obstacles in a dangerous and uncaring world. The worst aspects of America, from the Klan and its ugly racism and extreme sexism, to the criminal underworld represent the forces of evil that confront Ruby every step of the way. As a good person, in a corrupt society, Ruby is faced with temptations and choices that could lead to not only her own demise, but that of her two nieces as well. Faced with overcoming very long odds, Ruby embarks on a journey of self discovery, of her own inner strength, that matches and even surpasses the strength in her powerful left arm.
This novel carries echoes of the classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but Diamond Ruby's Brooklyn is a far darker and more dangerous place. Ruby Thomas (shown on baseball card left) is a survivor, who dispenses with sentimentality and accepts life's hardships stoically and with iron willed resolve. Ruby is a strong and memorable heroine, who lives in the here and now. She doesn't dream of riches or of a pie in the sky future. Her feet are planted firmly in this world and in the here and now. She does discover fame, and as with everything she experiences in her life as Diamond Ruby, fame extracts a heavy toll. The glamor of being a pitching sensation comes with a cost, and for Ruby, that high price is one that must be paid. As a reflection on fame and celebrity, in a world much like our own where the famous are worshiped and their every move followed by the general public, Joseph Wallace displays a keen eye, The author recognizes that many people seek fame, and a few achieve notoriety, but no one enters that exclusive world without sacrificing something very dear to them. The parallels between the 1920s and the world of today are striking, and Joseph Wallace presents those similarities very well.
I highly recommend the excellent and exhilarating novel Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace, to anyone seeking a thrilling story, peopled with memorable characters. The seamless blending or historical figures with fictional characters is a strength of the novel, that gives the story an additional layer of realism. The eternal themes of good and evil, temptation, redemption, and love of family permeate this must read novel.
Read the enthralling and and wonderful novel Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace, and transport yourself back to the Age of Ballyhoo, and relive the Roaring Twenties through the eyes of the delightful Ruby Thomas. The always fascinating Diamond Ruby, is one character that you will never forget, in this winner of a novel.
Tags: Diamond Ruby, Joseph Wallace, Roaring Twenties baseball, fiction book reviews.