Mistress Suffragette

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.

In the Fullness of Time

In the Fullness of Time, One Woman’s Story of Growth and Empowerment ISBN: 9781540718907, is an e-book by Katherine P. Stillerman.

Plot: Hattie Robinson is a nineteen-year-old school teacher who had been hired to care for the sons of wealthy and socially prominent South Carolina lawyer Charles Barton after the death of his equally prominent wife Elizabeth. He proposes marriage and, in spite of the fact that she is of lesser social position and he is twenty-three years her senior, the marriage is consummated. The story evolves as this naïve young woman attempts to fulfill her duties as mother and housewife, and to grow gradually into a woman totally accepted in this highly socially conscious environment and simultaneously be able to satisfy her own need for self-actualization. The story’s setting is the national women’s suffrage movement from 1913 – 1920 that provides an opportunity for Hattie to equate quite completely with her in laws and friends, as well as pursue activities that bring to light and/or explain many family secrets.

Discussion: The author’s dedication states: “This book is dedicated to strong-willed, independent women and to the men who love and understand them.” As she progressed with the manuscript, she further discovered: “The relevance of the theme to modern events grew, as I completed the first draft in the fall of 2016, at the height of the campaign of the first woman to run for president of the United States.” And: “The election’s surprise ending left half of the country stunned and alienated, much as Hattie and Alice must have been when the South Carolina legislature defeated the suffrage amendment in 1920.”

The reactions seemingly experienced by the author no doubt aided her projection of feelings of disappointment as well as other sentiments suffered by some of the characters. Her coverage of the entire suffrage movement during the chronicled period appears to be quite detailed, and she has performed admirably in her stated attempt: “to tell the story from the perspective of the characters and not write a historical interpretation of the woman suffrage movement (or) the Reconstruction Era.” All of the characters, protagonist and supporting, indeed are well done and empathetically portrayed. And, many areas provided I am sure will reach a deeper and more meaningful level for women than is possible for a man to attain.

5* An interestingly and well-written tale, no doubt more compelling for some.