As a woman, getting a medical degree in the 1880s was no small task, and Martha Hughes Cannon was determined to do so in order to better serve those in her Utah pioneer community. Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson (Shadow Mountain, 2020), a work of historical fiction, captures the life of this frontier doctor,
Note: I received a digital copy of the book for review consideration. Cloaked in Courage by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Anne Lamelet (Calkins Creek, 2022) tells the unique story of Deborah Sampson, a woman who pretended to be a man and joined the army during the Revolutionary War to help fight for freedom. Subtitled Uncovering
My first Thomas Hardy novel was simply fantastic. Emotionally poignant but also socially resonant, Tess of the D’Ubervilles (1891) provides an intriguing story about Victorian social and sexual hypocrisy through characters with clear flaws to recognize and appreciate. And yet, although it was clearly a commentary on the social structures and sexual morality in Victorian
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing in Tender is the Night (published 1934) is impressive. He writes complex sentences with incredible fluidity and rich vocabulary. This seems to give each sentence, each paragraph, and therefore each page a sense of life. Reading Fitzgerald is an exercise in appreciating the complexities and the beauties of the English language.
Edna Pontellier is a 29-year-old mother of two in late nineteenth century Louisiana. As befits a woman in her station, she has maids to clean, cooks to prepare her food, and a nanny to care for her young ones. As Kate Chopin’s novella The Awakening (published 1889) begins, she is spending her summer vacation at
In Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (published 1814), Fanny Price was the oldest daughter of a poor family, sent at age 10 to live with her generous and wealthy Bertram cousins. Yet, in the lovely Mansfield Park, Fanny was constantly reminded of her lesser status and spent her days for the most part assisting the lazy
In Jessie Redmon Fauset’s second published novel, Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral (published 1928), one woman struggles to finding her own identity racially and sexually in New York City during the vibrant years of the Harlem Renaissance. Artist Angela Murray is a light-skinned “coloured” woman in the transitional years of the late 1910s
In honor of my 31st birthday on Sunday, I thought I’d find a Persephone book with a title that made me laugh: It’s Hard to be Hip Over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life by Judith Viorst. Being in the USA, however, I only found the non-Persephone edition, the original 1968 publication of Viorst’s
When the confident orphaned young American woman at the center of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (published 1881) receives a fortune, it seems she will be able to live her dream life of happiness. Yet, James’ portrait of Isabel Archer’s character, emotional development, and her choices is a complex one. As a
Today begins the Second Annual Ghanian Literature Week, as celebrated by book bloggers around the globe. Kinna Reads is the central organizer of the occasion; see her introductory post. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo (1991) is about a Ghanian woman searching for her place in a modern world that is steeped in traditional culture. Esi
Maggie Tulliver is a quick-witted child, one with appalling manners for her strict Victorian house and community. She cannot seem to be a proper young lady. When the novel opens, she is about nine years old, and I couldn’t help adoring her childish antics, especially as she regularly brought disappointment to her mother and aunts
Summer by Edith Wharton (published 1917) is a short novella about a young woman searching for her place. In some places, it’s been cited as Wharton’s most “erotic” work1. Charity Royall does come to her own sexual awakening over the course of a summer, but Wharton writes about Charity’s choices without too much sexual reference.
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