The Last Days of Dogtown is set in early 1800s in a tiny town on Cape Ann, a rocky peninsula north of Boston known for its coastal beauty.
This novel takes place inland, where the original settlers built houses and tried to recreate the pastures and farms of old England. Eventually, the rocky soil and rough terrain defeated that plan and the population moved seaward, where fishing and shipping provided a living.
Just before it was deserted, Dogtown was home to widows and spinsters, orphans, and Africans – both enslaved and free: the kind of poor and marginal people whose lives go unrecorded and are forgotten.
But one small volume was written about that little band. Based on rumors and gossip, it contains snippets of vivid stories about characters with names like “Black Ruth” and “Easter Carter.” With that as her starting point, Anita Diamant imagined the final chapter of Dogtown, populated by dwindling community of misfits – some nasty, some kind – who depended upon each other to survive.