This biography is to Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley what The Brontës is to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. Meaning: if they're iThis biography is to Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley what The Brontës is to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. Meaning: if they're is one book you want to read on the two Marys, this is the one.
One unique thing about the book was the alternate chapters. Instead of talking about both women in a chapter, Gordon instead would dedicate one chapter to each woman at a period in her life. We literally go back and forth between the two.
Wollstonecraft, unfortunately, did not have as long a life as her daughter. Because of this we 'spend more time' with her in order for the chapters to remain even. We're more focused on certain periods of her life, whilst with Mary Shelley it's more spread out.
While a tome, it was very readable. I never felt bored or felt that there was a bunch of information being thrown at me. A great biography about two incredible and revolutionary women....more
Eighty Days was a fascinating account of two women's race around the world, that of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland.
The race was not intended to b3.5
Eighty Days was a fascinating account of two women's race around the world, that of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland.
The race was not intended to be a race at all. The idea was to outdo the fictional character Phileas Fogg's eighty day journey around the world, an idea that Bly had been pressing to the World, the paper in which she worked. She was finally given the ok, and preparations had been set. However, The Cosmopolitan caught wind of this and decided to send one of their own, Elisabeth Bisland, to race Bly. Bly set out east, and Bisland set out west.
There's no doubt that Bly's quest was the most reported on. I honestly did not know about Bisland until I came across this book. I knew all about Bly's trip around the world, but was flabbergasted that there was another woman doing the very same thing at the very same time.
The book chronicles both women's trips around the world, the ups and downs, and the unexpected road blocks. It also gives insights to the places and people both women encountered.
Both women completed their journeys, with Bly beating Bisland by a few days. Bly had become a celebrity, while Bisland gained only a little fanfare.
However, one thing they both accomplished was what they did for other women, especially in the field of journalism. More women were hired in the aftermath of the race, and the 'new American woman' was established.
One thing that bogged the book down was the endless detail. The text would sometime veer off into pages and pages about the city either women was visiting. It was nice and all, but it felt like way too much. I skipped much of this, honestly. It seemed as though there was not enough to write about either woman's trip to make a whole book, hence all the unnecessary detail.
Still, this was an informative book, and like me, you can always skip the stuff I did....more
Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde is a good account of the life of an often overlooked figure.
I admit, I've been interesteConstance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde is a good account of the life of an often overlooked figure.
I admit, I've been interested in the life and work of Oscar Wilde for years, but have never given a second thought to his wife Constance. Shame on me! I feel like I need to apologize to her. She was a woman ahead of her time: intelligent, progressive, for women's rights, etc. She was also a children's writer.
From reading this biography I learned that Constance was an incredibly real person. She had her flaws, but some of them can be excused for the time she lived in. I also learned just what her husband's trial and eventual imprisonment did to her.
In the book are exerts of unpublished letters that Constance wrote to friends and family. Also included are some fabulous photos that I have never seen before.
Constance Wilde was truly an inspiring woman whose life ended much too soon. She was incredibly eager to learn anything and everything, not to mention wanting to do anything and everything. She understandably wore herself out. And even when her husband went to prison, she still continued to support him, showing just how compassionate she was.
Highly recommended biography. I'm thrilled that Constance's story is finally out there....more
There is nothing I like better than reading about empowered women who fought against the restrictions of their time. So, when I heard about The DeadlyThere is nothing I like better than reading about empowered women who fought against the restrictions of their time. So, when I heard about The Deadly Sisterhood more than a year ago, I immediately put it on my wish list. And I was thrilled when I was able to read an advance copy.
The Deadly Sisterhood is mainly about eight women from the Italian Renaissance. And while the focus is on these eight women, we do hear about others.
The main point of this book was to see the lasting legacies the women of this time left: whether it was from their own extreme or lesser actions, or through their descendants.
The boldness of these women showed. When the last of the eight women featured here died - Isabella d'Este - with her died an end of an era. An era where women where able to take control, and even manipulate to gain power and status. After the death of Isabella, the world in which she lived changed, and became a place she and her contemporary women would have felt stifled in.
One of the women featured in this book is Caterina Sforza. I had read a fantastic biography about her last year, but was still thrilled that she was included here. I actually learned a bit more about her, not surprisingly considering the depths of this woman’s amazingness could not all be included in one book.
The Deadly Sisterhood is highly recommended to those interested in the Italian Renaissance and women's history. How appropriate that I finish it during Women's History Month....more
The Kings' Mistresses is a fabulous account of Marie and Hortense Mancini, two of the most scandalous and free-thinking women of their time.
Marie andThe Kings' Mistresses is a fabulous account of Marie and Hortense Mancini, two of the most scandalous and free-thinking women of their time.
Marie and Hortense were the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin. The two, along with their siblings were born in Rome and brought to Paris: Marie was 13 and Hortense, 9. Their uncle arranged marriages for both of them – Marie first, because she was a little too cozy with King Louis XIV.
However, both Marie and Hortense's marriages didn't go well. After producing several children, both of them ditched their husbands. Hortense left her mad and scheming husband in 1668, and Marie left her husband four years later, with fear that he would kill her otherwise.
Both sought refuge in different places, but not the same. Marie went from convent to convent, finally ending up in Madrid, and didn't have the freedom that Hortense ended up having in London after she became the mistress of Charles II.
However, both accomplished what they set out to do: never to return to their husbands. Whatever roadblocks were hurled their way, whatever lawsuits were produced, and whoever tried to intervene, the sisters somehow managed their goal. The sisters ended up having major influence on the women of their time. Their escapades were reported all through Europe and it got people talking. Whether people were on the sides of the sisters or their 'poor, deserted' husbands, people talked. And when people start talking about an issue, things start happening.
The result, eventually, of the sisters flights ended up having was the discussion of just how much power a husband should have over his wife. Unhappy wives soon started following the Mancini sisters' examples by standing up and saying that they shouldn't have to stay in a disastrous marriage and should have the right to live separately from their husbands.
The two sisters ended up writing memoirs, which were quoted in the book. I so happen to have said memoirs, and can not wait to get to them now.
The Kings' Mistresses was a great biography on two women who stood up for their rights during a time when women didn't have any. At times, reading the book, I was infuriated by just how little power the women had, how much Marie's husband toyed with her: locking her up in convents (and at one point, a prison!). Through the decades, both husbands would demand their wives return to them, not because they cared for them, but because of their own wounded prides. Neither husband won, and to that, I say: Hooray!...more
I'm not big on Georgette Heyer's books anymore, but I'm always interested in learning about the real lA decent biography about an insufferable person.
I'm not big on Georgette Heyer's books anymore, but I'm always interested in learning about the real lives of authors. Well, Ms. Heyer and I would not have been friends, let's just say that.
The book in itself had problems keeping my attention. Dry biographies that basically just state fact after fact bore me to tears. I can find that stuff out on the internet. I never felt engaged, and often skimmed pages.
The book was highly researched, and it shows, almost too much. There aren't that many Heyer bios out there, so I recommend this if you want the facts of her life. Unfortunately there's not much else I can think of to say....more
A readable biography about a truly fascinating woman.
Caterina Sforza was the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan and Lucrez A readable biography about a truly fascinating woman.
Caterina Sforza was the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan and Lucrezia Landriani. As was usual of illegitimate children of the time, Caterina grew up in her father's home, raised by her stepmother Bona of Savoy.
I could be here all day telling you all the amazing – and sometimes ruthless – things Caterina did. She was married three times and gave birth to nine children. In 1484, while seven months pregnant, Caterina occupied the fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo after Pope Sixtus IV (her husband's uncle) died. She did this in order to guarantee safety and security to her family.
I admire how Caterina often stuck to her guns, even with a couple of ungrateful children, and then having the Borgias breathing down her neck – it was around this time that she gained the nickname Il Tigre. And after a tumultuous life, including being imprisoned, Caterina was able to have some peace with her children and experimenting with her hobby of alchemy. However, it didn't last long. She contracted pneumonia and died at the age of 46.
This biography of the great Caterina Sforza was, as I said, very readable. It wasn't stuffy at all, and the pages just flew by. Anyone interested in the Italian Renaissance and fierce historical women shouldn't be disappointed....more
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Knuckler. While I am a hardcore Red Sox fan, I have to admit, I know little about Tim Wakefield. II didn't know what to expect when I started reading Knuckler. While I am a hardcore Red Sox fan, I have to admit, I know little about Tim Wakefield. I knew that he started his career in Pittsburgh and he was a knuckleballer. That's it.
Reading Knuckler gave me a whole new appreciation for Wakefield. For me, as a Sox fan, he was always there, for better or worse. He stuck it out and showed determination, but as I worked my way through Knuckler, I had no idea just how much.
In Knuckler we follow Tim from his college days to Pittsburgh's minor league system, where he was basically shuffled around. Wakefield was an infielder, he was a hitter. He only threw the knuckleball during practices, but never in seriousness. Turns out, the knuckleball was going to end up being the one thing that kept him in baseball. He was basically given a choice, focus on the knuckleball, or go home.
From his rise as a star on the Pirates, to winding up on the Red Sox, Wakefield shares, due to managers and pitching coaches not understanding the knuckleball, his struggles from being tossed around. From the starting rotation to the bullpen, sometimes managers undervalued the knuckleball, seeing it as the bottom of the totem pole as far as pitches went. Sometimes he was thrown in the bullpen only to clean up other people's messes. He often sacrificed his own ERA for the good of the team, going into games on short rest in order to rest the bullpen or to give the team some much needed pitching.
And after game seven in the 2003 ALCS, Wakefield thought he was going to be another Bill Buckner, but he soon learned that Boston and its fans valued him and were still rooting for him. He had his chance at redemption the following year, along with starting game one of the World Series and a World Series Championship. Another championship came in 2007 and in 2009 he made his first ever All Star Game Appearance at age 42. And just recently, he won the Roberto Clemente Award, being the first ever Red Sox to do so.
Throughout his years in baseball, Wakefield thought he was often overlooked because he was a knuckleballer, but it turned out that people took more notice than he thought. He's become a permanent staple on the Red Sox and is going to stick around until he's tossed out....more
Gypsy Rose Lee is a lady I knew virtually nothing about. I have never seen Gypsy – the movie or the stage musical. And even if I had, I still wouldn'tGypsy Rose Lee is a lady I knew virtually nothing about. I have never seen Gypsy – the movie or the stage musical. And even if I had, I still wouldn't know anything about her, seeing as how most of it was fabricated.
This book tells about the real Gypsy Rose Lee: originally born Ellen June, but when her sister was born, her mother decided to give the new baby her name, so Gypsy's name became Rose Louise – Louise for short.
Gypsy, was always in the shadow of her talented younger sister June, but finally broke away from the shadows when her sister ran off and eloped. Circumstances then led Gypsy to burlesque where she was discovered by Billy Minsky who made her a star.
American Rose was a fascinating account of a time gone by, the 1930s and 40s, in the era where vaudeville had died and burlesque became more and more popular despite censors and raids. I was amazed how Gypsy seemed to transform once she started burlesque. Her personality came out and she discovered her strengths. She had a gift for capturing an audience and leave them begging for more.
Highly recommend for folks interested in the period, and people who want to know about the real Gypsy Rose Lee....more
I haven't read any other non-fiction book about the Brontë family, but I can tell you that this is the Brontë biography to start with. Yes, it's a tomI haven't read any other non-fiction book about the Brontë family, but I can tell you that this is the Brontë biography to start with. Yes, it's a tome, but it's oh so worth it. It completely erases the myths and legends surrounding the family, and relies on fact (or as close as you can get to fact) using letters and other documents.
This book may end up depressing some people who like to believe the embellished sensationalism that are rooted in rumor. However, for someone who wants to know the real Brontës, then this book is a dream. We're shown the family as they are, flaws and all, and believe me, none of them are perfect.
Stripped down are the words of Elizabeth Gaskell in her 'biography' of Charlotte, and even the words of Charlotte are examined, especially in reference to her sisters. Charlotte was grossly unfair of Anne in particular, and in Charlotte's letters, a view of Anne emerged that is untrue. The Brontës does justice to Anne, showing her as an intelligent being, when Charlotte gave her no credit in that regard. I must admit that I've always been sort of a defender of Anne; I always felt as if she got the short end of the stick, in no fault of her own.
This book is about all the Brontës, not just about the three sisters. Granted, I basically read this to read about the sisters, but reading about Patrick, and Branwell, as they truly were, was fascinating. The stereotype of Patrick being a strict tyrannical father was shot down. The view of Branwell always being a drunk and screw up is also diminished.
Of course, we also find out that some of the sensationalist events in Brontë lure were true, such as Branwell's affair with his employer's wife, and Charlotte's infatuation with Mousier Heger. Reading the details of both gave shape to how these significant events shaped each respective sibling's life.
What was also fascinating, and something I never gave much thought to, was the imaginary worlds that the siblings created. Charlotte and Branwell with their Angria world, and Emily and Anne with their Gondal world. They created worlds and characters, wrote up histories for them, write poetry that were part of these worlds, and it's evident that the sisters' earlier work on these imaginary worlds were a huge part of their future novels. There are characters and events in the Angria and Gondal worlds that show up in disguise in the seven novels, along with personal events and real life people in their lives. Reading in detail about these worlds and the sisters' real life experiences gives me a new appreciation for their novels.
I could go on and on about everything I learned from the tremendously thorough biography, but I'll stop here. I don't think I need to do any more convincing....more
A very interesting account about a very interesting lady.
Natalie Clifford Barney, born in Dayton, Ohio in 1876 in a wealthy family was, from the startA very interesting account about a very interesting lady.
Natalie Clifford Barney, born in Dayton, Ohio in 1876 in a wealthy family was, from the start, a free spirit. She lived her life defying society's conventions. She lived openly, never hiding or giving excuses for being a lesbian or feminist or for her dreams as a writer. She refused to marry and instead moved to Paris in the early 1900s where she would live for the rest of her life.
I can't recall where I first came across Barney's name, but the more I read about her, the more fascinated I became. I was thrilled that there was a full length bio out there. This seemed to be a very good one, thankfully, seeing as how it seems to be the only one.
It was definitely a tome, which was fine by me. Rodriguez hit on just about everything. Everything from the smallest detail to mentioning a person Barney only met once or twice. We were given long accounts of the women who played important roles in her life such as Pauline Tarn, Liane de Pougy and Romaine Brookes. Deriving from personal papers and the memories of people who knew Natalie, Rodriguez paints a very vivid portrait of the woman most knew as 'The Amazon.'
Rodriguez also did not make excuses for Barney's faults. And she did have them. A few things I had a problem with was that Barney was a feminist, but a few times gave off a few misogynist quotes, which I found surprising, seeing as how she was a woman who loved women and was in the forefront of advancing women's talents. Another was her anti-semitic views. Which, as Rodriguez states, seems to come out of no where. Barney was herself 1/8 Jewish and had at times seemed to be proud of her Jewish ancestry, but somewhere around WWII she gave off some very nasty comments. No one seems to know what sparked Barney to say such things.
Barney was a patron of the arts, and didn't know much about politics and such. When Erza Pound went off on his rants before WWII, Barney sat next to him and agreed with him. She was the only one. Everyone else just thought he was nuts and he ended up going away for treason. I found it interesting how she just accepted whatever he said because it sounded good.
Back to the good stuff, Barney played a huge part in advancing the careers of both men and women writers and painters, especially those she was close with: lovers and close friends. At her famous salon (which lasted about 60 years), referred to simply as 'Fridays' she sometimes dedicated a Friday to one person's work. What I wouldn't give to go back and time to witness these 'Fridays' firsthand. The most famous names in the arts would visit Barney's salon and would discuss art, literature and so on. Plays would be put on, buffets would be set out, ideas would be exchanged.
I could go on, but this book covered so much. When I finished Wild Heart I came away with a deep appreciation for a woman who was definitely a rebel.
Wild Heart is a deep, fantastic book about a glittering world of time gone by....more
I can't say much for the biography itself, except that this is a good start at getting Greene's name in the history books, along with George WashingtoI can't say much for the biography itself, except that this is a good start at getting Greene's name in the history books, along with George Washington's, where it belongs. And for someone interested in getting to know more about Nathanael Greene, I would suggest this, seeing as how accounts of the forgotten general are few and far between.
It boggles my mind how absent Greene's name is from accounts of The American Revolution. People don't realize there would have been no Yorktown if not for Greene. Before Greene's magnificent Southern campaign, the British controlled all of the south. By Yorktown, they controlled virtually none of it. Without decisively winning any battles, Greene not only took charge of the south, but had driven Cornwallis' troops out of the Carolinas and right into George Washington's hands. Greene himself said it best after the battle at Yorktown:
We have been beating the bush and the General has come to catch the bird. Never was there a more fortunate Man, and may success and laurels attend him. We have fought frequently, and bled freely, and little glory comes to our share.
So what happened to Washington's favorite general, the savior of the south, after the revolution? He was met with much debt and received no fanfare when he returned to his home state of Rhode Island. And he died three years later, in 1786. He was buried in an unmarked tomb that wasn't discovered until 1901, which is covered at the beginning of this book.
His name was virtually forgotten and the whereabouts his remains were unknown for virtually 115 years. It's despicable and sad. There probably would not have been a Yorktown, and who would know what would have happened, how long the war might have gone on and who would have won if there was no Nathanael Greene....more
Victoria Woodhull is one of the most fascinating people I've ever read about. The first woman to run for president, she was an incredibly intelligentVictoria Woodhull is one of the most fascinating people I've ever read about. The first woman to run for president, she was an incredibly intelligent woman with opinions and views far ahead of her time. And because of the great double-standard of society against women of that time, she was shunned because of them.
Woodhull lived the same kind of life that many men did at that time, but her reputation suffered because of it, while most men got off with just a slap on the hand. She was jailed for the stupidest reasons and lost all her money because of it.
Her strong views in a society that viewed wives as property of their husbands made men afraid of her. So, they used her past against her to discredit her. Heaven forbid women think for themselves! They might suddenly realize that the standards society has set for them are a load of crap.
If she lived in a different time, and didn't have a psychotic family or live in a hypocritical world, she could have done some amazing things. And even though she was shunned by society and eventually moved to London, the upheaval she left behind during the late 1860s and most of the 70s did have an effect on some woman. Unfortunately, because of her so-called controversial and scandalous reputation, we won't know just how so.
This book is extremely useful for learning about Victoria before she moved to London in the 1870s. Once she moved there, she changed her background and ancestors so much, that we don't know much except for her life in America. The book also includes some of the major players in the world around Woodhull: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Henry Bowen, Henry Tilton, Henry Ward Beecher, among others. A few chapters covered the infamous Tilton-Beecher trials.
Fascinating book that plays out almost like a fiction book, but who could make this up?...more
Like every other American, I learned about Lincoln in school. In reality, none us of really learned about Lincoln in school. We learned basic bullet pLike every other American, I learned about Lincoln in school. In reality, none us of really learned about Lincoln in school. We learned basic bullet points: He was born in a log cabin; he freed the slaves; he was assassinated. And were maybe made to memorize the Gettysburg Address.
As an adult, this baffles me. This Kentucky born, self-educated, rail splitter turned poetic President was not a simple man. I won't get into that, or else I'd be here all day.
My true fascination with Lincoln's life really came about in the past few years. I don't know, maybe it was the many, many documentaries I watched. But it felt like while researching every kind of political figure, world leader, or any other person who made a mark, I always came back to Lincoln. Maybe because he wasn't some great genius and that he really was just a man.
Lincoln only wanted to remembered for one great thing before he left this earth. I think the way we've remembered him and held him up on a pedestal - as almost a mythological figure - is surely humbling him, wherever he is.
This book is the perfect starting point to anyone wanting to learn about the real Lincoln. Not the Lincoln we learned about in elementary school or about the mythological saint-like figure America has made him out to be, but the man....more
My reading of this book has been long overdue and I don't know what took me so long. I can't express just how surprised I was by this book; I expectedMy reading of this book has been long overdue and I don't know what took me so long. I can't express just how surprised I was by this book; I expected a lot of bullshit, but I was wrong. The honesty in this book was almost shocking; Jerry didn't hold back. I love the funny stories of him and Dean in the early part of their partnership and marked a few of them to go back and read when I need a laugh. Jerry Lewis has always made me laugh with his Idiot shtick and he made me laugh with the written word.
The admiration and love he had for Dean is unmistakable. He was just as mad as anyone that Dean wasn't getting the respect he deserved. Dean was always a clever and masterful comedian, but in a way that was subtle. He could spew off one-liners without even thinking about it.
The honesty and the love that went into this book is well worth five-stars. The last chapter and afterword had me in tears.