Mistress Suffragette ISBN: 9781946409065, Penmore Press, a Historical/Political/ Victorian Romance by Diana Forbes.
Plot: Penelope, marriageable daughter of Mr. /Mrs. Philip P. Stanton and slightly younger sister Lydia of Newport, RI are attending the first Ball of the new season of the prestigious and jealously guarded inner Newport Social Circle. Philip, a Bank President and heavily positioned in shipping has lost heavily in the Public Monetary Panic of 1893. Thus their position of remaining within the group is somewhat questionable. In fact, her fiancé (and 5th cousin) Sam Haven (seemingly having been more interested in her family position) already has broken their engagement. Additionally, George Seaton, the family’s solicitor and already evaluating what is left of their estate, sees an opportunity of seizing what is left, but ignored by Penelope, proposes marriage to Lydia. Penelope, apropos the mores of the times for women of her ‘class’, is a young woman devoid of any practical worldly training or experience but faces the need to obtain a job at her mother’s direction so as to provide some of her earnings to aid the family to survive. Added into the mix is the immensely charming and fabulously wealthy Edgar Daggers well known as a ‘scandalous ladies’ man’ – a matter that is overlooked by his beautiful pregnant wife. He suggests she work for him as a secretary for quite sizeable recompense, so they can be together in a seemingly legitimate manner. She is attracted to the man and sorely tempted, however resists and instead joins with her close friend Lucinda, who is a beautiful Greek daughter of a teller in a bank assumedly untouched by the Panic. They flee to Boston where she becomes involved with Verdona, an attractive woman with some apparent lesbian tendencies, who is leader of the Suffrage Movement that had been adopted in Colorado in 1893. From here, her subsequent life begins to unfold along with that of the movement as she gradually becomes more independent, although still struggling with the teachings of her long period of indoctrination to dependence upon a man. The resulting thoughts and activities further are scrambled by the reappearance of Sam Haven and George Seaton, repeated appearances of Edgar Daggers, and new appearance of Stone Aldrich and his brother Quincy as well as a new movement ‘leader’ in the fabulously wealthy and ‘well connected’ Amy Van Buren in New York City.
Discussion/Conclusion: This is an interestingly described period of change within the United States where a catastrophic monitory disruption ruined businesses, closed banks and tore families to shreds, tangentially literally tore apart the mores of a particular culture that wallowed in its ridiculous thoughts and practices, and coincidentally aided the rise of gender equality. Readers will gain considerable enlightenment about an interesting period of American history in a fictional format that many no doubt will thoroughly enjoy.
5* Enlighteningly and interestingly presented period many readers will enjoy.