Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Eye of the Virgin - Frederick Ramsay

OK, this is another book that has next to nothing to do with the July theme of Nat Wills, but I had to hurry up and read it so I could read a NetGalley version of the latest Ike Schwartz mystery (I was one behind), so I'm shoehorning it in. The only real link is that the book takes place in Virginia, where Nat Wills was apparently born and spent the very early years of his life. His mother and younger brother Clarence (who died young) are also buried in a small town just south of Richmond, so he must have family members still in the area, even if they are only distantly related. His father's first wife, who died youngish also, is buried next to Nat's mother, but his father doesn't appear to have been buried there - or if he was, it must not have been near his wives. Yet another puzzle to wonder about.

Actually another "link" is that there is a character named Louis, and Nat's real name was Louis. This makes me wonder at why so many performers back then used fake names. I know that some changed their names to sound more generic and less ethnic, but in Nat's case, why would he have only changed his first name? I can also understand why performers in these days of the Internet might use a fake name, to keep a distance from a "real life" and a celebrity/public eye life, but at the turn of the century there were no databases, records were not centralized and kept the same way in different places, there was no paparazzi capturing your every move, and no cell phone cameras so people can upload anything to a worldwide audience in seconds. In 1900, a person could move to a new town and change their name and no one would be able to prove they were really Jack Spratt from East Podunk Junction or whatever. Unless someone invents a time machine and I go back and ask Mr. Wills about the name change (among other things, I have a long list), I guess I'll never know for sure, but it is interesting to speculate.

Back to the book, it turns out Frederick Ramsay is also a painter who paints religious icons. He painted the icon that is used for the cover of the book, which is really cool, and I assumed it was an antique icon.

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