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Thursday, January 15, 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT & REVIEW: Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth

Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth By Ross Eliot

Genre: Memoir, LGBTQ/ Trans Nonfiction, NW History


This narrative begins in 1998 when, in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually the basement pantry of a grand house owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor.  
Her past unfolds in stories, from the 1928 kidnapping in central Washington carried out by a mysterious wealthy French woman, to life in occupied Europe during World War II with the Czarist assassin of Rasputin a frequent houseguest. The professor’s later life experiences in America only create more intrigue, from teenage prostitution to her late-life sex reassignment, involvement with the Catholic Church and connections to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a notorious 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon. 
Eliot cares for Dr. Ellsworth until her death in 2002 before an entire class of students, however, the shroud covering her story has only partially raised and murkier secrets than ever suspected emerge. Part memoir, part mystery, part history lesson– this true tale binds drama from classic Greek tragedy together with revelations worthy of the most bizarre fiction. From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it’s an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also for the city of Portland where they live.

My Review

BABETTE! A new favorite and magnum opus! This brilliant piece of Pacific Northwestern literature really packs a punch! This story begins with a trip down the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, & Ross’ hard landing in the Rose city and the sublime diversity of its population.  The development of his relationship with the intriguing Dr. Ellsworth and her alternate take on life, love, history, and gender identity are beautifully woven into this piece.  Added to that is his rich descriptions of the vastness of human experience available to anyone with the moxie to LIVE life instead of just observing!  All sung with color, tumult, & joie de vivre, to a tune drawn from many important and powerful pieces of classical prose.

I loved this book, and it will definitely be taking a place amongst my keepers! 

Author Info

Ross Eliot is a writer, roofer, auto mechanic, DJ and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska. He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011 and the current internet journal Occupy the 2nd Amendment.


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