Diane Simmons


Courtship of Eva Eldridge

  • The letters Simmons discovered "contained a story so remarkable and fascinating it transformed her into a detective. The book’s academic publisher lists the categories true crime and women’s studies on the back cover, but it might also have chosen sociology and psychology; Simmons found she needed to explore widely to make sense of the story she found." Sandy Polishuk. Oregon Historical Quarterly Fall 2017.

  • Simmons’s well-researched, absorbing book depicts a crucial moment in America when young women were caught between two worlds—the quest for marital love and the desire for personal autonomy—and often found neither. The author had access to Eva’s letters, interviewed people who had known her, and shares an intimate, firsthand knowledge of Eva and her world. She combines her own analyses with impeccable research and a compelling prose style to craft a book that is riveting, suspenseful, and intelligent." Eric Maroney Colorado Review

  • " In “The Courtship of Eva Eldridge,” Diane Simmons traces one woman’s story through hundreds of wartime letters and papers, ultimately uncovering postwar America’s rampant bigamy and the women who overcame it." The New Yorker

  • " Interweaving American, Northwest and women's history with true crime, the book is a riveting study of an era at once distant from and still near our own, as well as a fascinating glimpse of two people living by their own rules." Amy Wang. The Oregonian

  • "An exceptional and impressive work of impeccable and extraordinary scholarship. . . . an inherently and consistently compelling read from beginning to end that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Women's Studies and American Cultural Studies collections, it should be noted for academia and non-specialist general readers. . . ' Midwest Book Review

  • This is a curious book, reading almost like fiction, yet it is a true story. . . [bringing] history to a poignantly personal level. The Minnesota Star Tribune

  • Drawing on an impressive collection of 800 letters and papers, Simmons tells the story of Eva Eldridge, a woman whose husband Vick took off soon after their honeymoon in the '50s. The humiliation was only made worse by post-World War II society's pressure to marry. Convinced that her newly minted husband is struggling with post-traumatic stress, Eva decides to track him down. She soon discovers that her hero is a serial bigamist and her name was added to a long list of abandoned wives. The Chicago Tribune

  • "Interweaving American, Northwest and women's history with true crime, the book is a riveting study of an era at once distant from and still near our own, as well as a fascinating glimpse of two people living by their own rules." The Idaho Statesman

  • Interview, Samantha Wright, Boise State Radio

  • "The Courtship of Eva Eldridge" . . . delves into our collective history, reveals and educates its reader. . . And Simmons does a masterful job of relating her thorough research without making us feel in the least like we’re sitting in a Sociology 101 lecture hall. She makes her case slyly, so that we don’t even notice we’re nodding along and going, 'Ohhhh, yes, of course!''" Yi Shun Lai. Tahoma Literary Review

  • "We can be glad that Eva's letters and story fell into the hands of a gifted storyteller with a keen eye for social analysis and deep empathy for her subject. You don't often get this much information and thoughtful interpretation in the context of a truly gripping--and true-- story." Meredith Sue Willis. Books for Readers

  • This book demonstrates the great breadth and depth of epistolary materials. PushPullBooks

  • "This is a brilliant book. . . " Margaret Sankey, Goodreads

  • "Simmons’ detective skills really come into play as the extent of Vick’s deception – and his serial bigamy – becomes apparent. Having read between the lines of Eva’s letters and winkled out clues to her relationship with Vick, Simmons travels the country, tracking down witnesses and enlisting expert help to explore possible explanations for Vick’s bizarre behaviour. Was he in fact suffering from PTSD as Eva suspected; was he a psychopath, without empathy for his victims or remorse for his crimes; or was he simply a con artist, taking advantage of vulnerable women who were afraid of growing old alone?" Loree Westron

  • "Simmons does a knockout job telling the story of family friend Eva Eldridge, as well as the story of countless women of Ms. Eldridge's generation." Goodreads

  • "Through the lens of Eva's life, Simmons reflects on the changing roles of women. . . after World War II. We see the role the media plays ”first calling women into performing . . . civilian work as a service to their country, and then promoting marriage and home as the only suitable job for women after the war. . . ." -Deborah Clearman, Author Todos Santos

  • "Finally a different take on the home front during World War II. It follows the story of Eva and her short marriage that leads her on a journey of discovery. It explores the consequences for some after returning home. The author works in the letters and background information about the era and a woman's role. It touches on all the ways that war changed a woman's role in society. . . . " Coral Russell, Goodreads

  • ". . . written in a spectacular way . . . .I loved reading about Eva and the search for her husband and also enjoyed the psychoanalysis on Vick." KMcCleer Reviews

Little America

Winner Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction

". . . a contemporary Western, reminiscent of stories by E.L. Doctorow, Richard Bausch, and Richard Ford."--Chris Fink, Editor, Beloit Fiction Journal

Dreams Like Thunder

Winner Oregon Book Award

". . . lightly drawn but the fierceness, the cruelty are there." -- Grace Paley

"Diane Simmons . . has the measure of her rural characters in this thoroughly enjoyable first novel." New York Times Book Review

"Direct yet subtle, Dreams Like Thunder is about leavetaking . . Alberta will be haunted for the rest of her life by the smells of hay and manure and mountain air, by the legend that is shaping her even as she rejects it." Los Angeles Times Book Review