A Short History of Women: A Novel
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NOMINATED FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
A profoundly moving portrait of the complicated legacies of mothers and daughters, A Short History of Women chronicles five generations of women from the close of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twenty-first.
Beginning in 1914 at the deathbed of Dorothy Trevor Townsend, a suffragette who starves herself for the cause, the novel traces the echoes of her choice in the stories of her descendants—a brilliant daughter who tries to escape the burden of her mother’s infamy; a granddaughter who chooses a conventional path, only to find herself disillusioned; a great-granddaughter who wryly articulates the free-floating anxiety of post-9/11 Manhattan. In a kaleidoscope of characters and with a richness of imagery, emotion, and wit, A Short History of Women is a thought-provoking and vividly original narrative that crisscrosses a century—a book for "any woman who has ever struggled to find her own voice; to make sense of being a mother, wife, daughter, and lover" (Associated Press).
tragic, she told William. There were worse things she could tell him and no, it didn’t, quite honestly, break her heart. “I was looking for the Spiritualists,” she said. “Don’t think me unsympathetic.” “You’d rather talk to ghosts than Anarchists,” William said. “I wanted to watch the table shake. There’s much rattling and then, if you’re fortunate, the wind blows and you lose a pane or two.” She smiled, flirting or doing her best. She felt too old for this, unpracticed. If she looked straight
Father Simple know of this? What did any of them? You will fight the good fight, Father Simple said. Amen. “Dorothy was a young woman of nineteen, working as secretary to some banking executives in San Francisco, her hometown, and living with two girlfriends in a cold-water flat near Chinatown. Anyway, this particular afternoon she was crossing the street on her lunch hour and found herself dodging the path of a runaway cable car. She collided with a lamppost, nearly suffering a concussion. I
he might swab William’s eye and bandage his nose. He unwinds gauze from within one of the glass cylinders and scissors tape: the box of a room an orchestra of instruments with which he works, steady, mute—antiseptic, cotton, string. He is a good doctor who, years from now, will become a hero of sorts, a World War I medic and witness to the Christmas truce at Ypres. He will write of it, one of the few to describe the miracle—the way the German soldiers lined lit candles along the parapets of the
at Caroline from the Feminist Arts&Letters: Essays on the Obvious website, her gorgeous dark eyes—stranger in the Man Ray photograph—insistent, somehow, as if Dora Maar has grown impatient with Caroline’s lack of interest, her general drifting. I am not a woman accustomed to being kept waiting, Dora Maar might have said, had she been alive and not just a constellation of pixels. I would like a little consideration, she might have added. She is used to adoration or, in the words of the scholar who
terribly wrong—” How astute! “And I would hasten to add that she, far more than my father, might have made a lasting contribution—” Shocking! “—to what is good and right, to what is fair, about our system of governance. We know from the work of the adventurers in the Explorers Club that there are certain societies that celebrate women’s work, that rely on women to sustain their very existence. I’m thinking of South American cultures, many of the tribes from the Amazon Basin—” The names of