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The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,326 ratings  ·  298 reviews
One day in 1855 Lucy Lobdell cut her hair, changed clothes, and went off to live her life as a man. By the time it was over, she was notorious. The New York Times thought her worthy of a lengthy obituary that began “Death of a Modern Diana . . . Dressed in Man’s Clothing She Wins a Girl’s Love.” The obit detailed what the Times knew of Lucy’s life, from her backwoods upbri ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Greenleaf Book Group Press (first published June 10th 2013)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,326 ratings  ·  298 reviews

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Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it

Lucy Lobdell lived in an era when anyone outside the norm were fodder for the asylum. As a young girl it was obvious that she was not like her siblings, and in later life she proved them right by living as a man. The 1800s were not an era for independent women. Neither was it a place for women loving other women.

This story, based on a true life story, is a sad tale to read in 2015 and one can only wonder how devastating this young woman's life must have been in those times. The author captured t
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Where I got the book: review copy received from the publisher.

Update 3/3/15: My feature article for the Historical Novel Society is online.

I’m assigned to write a feature about this book for the Historical Novel Society (I’ll publish the link here when it’s up) and normally I don’t post a review of the book before I do the HNS piece. Sometimes I don’t post a review at all for these feature pieces, just the link to the feature—that generally means I have some reservations about the book that woul
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I selected The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell to read and review. Too little has been written about women who were willing to take the risk to live out their lives in spite of what society demanded of them. Lucy Ann Lobdell was one of those women.

As mentioned above, Lucy's story literally dropped into William Klaber's hands. Although Lucy had stated her intentions to write an account of her adventures posing as a man, no such record was ever found.

“I intend to write a book in wh
Lis Carey
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fictionalized biography of a quite remarkable but little-known 19th-century figure, Lucy Ann Lobdell, a woman who lived most of her adult life as a man.

Born in 1829 in upstate New York, Lucy learned from her father to hunt and to play the violin, both unusual activities for a female at that time. She did marry, but after the marriage failed, and she had a young daughter to support, her life started to veer off in unexpected directions. Leaving her daughter with her parents, Lucy left h
May 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
In the year 2014, women dressing as men are of no consequence. However, 130+ years ago, Lucy Lobdell’s decision to don men’s clothing in order to set upon her own fortune was beyond scandalous. William Klaber meshes this real woman with some fiction in, “The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell”.

Although the topic of Lucy Lobdell becoming Joseph Lobdell is without a doubt fascinating; Klaber’s novel is sadly less so. The issue lies purely with poor execution and a writing style which doesn’t go hi
William Klaber
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
One day in 1855 Lucy Lobdell changes clothes and runs off to Honesdale PA, where as Joseph, the Professor of Dance, she opens a dancing school. The young ladies of town take interest in this handsome young man who seems to know what a girl likes, not like the usual louts about town. Then, one of them, Lydia Watson, the beautiful and rebellious daughter of a prominent family, falls in love with the dance teacher. And Lucy, not fully understanding what is happening, falls in love with the Lydia. A ...more
Allison Hiltz
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
From The Book Wheel

What a cool book! I know that’s an odd description for a novel, especially one that falls into the historical fiction category, but I just can’t think of a better word. This book is just soooo cool. And incredible. And wonderfully written. And you know what’s even cooler than the book? The story about how it came to be! (see video below)

The Background

The author, William Klaber, fell into the remarkable story of Lucy Ann Lobdell quite accidentally. In the early 1980′s,  he and
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2013, arc
Honestly, I don’t know how to begin to explain how much I enjoyed reading this book. It is a fictionalized history of a person who actually lived. Lucy Ann Lobdell was born in the early 1800′s and her story is amazing. Klaber does a great job of mixing fact with how Lucy would have acted.

Lucy was married and had a daughter, Helen. Her husband became abusive so she moved in with her family and he went his own way. Lucy, though, was not a typical woman. She was the type to go hunting and spend a l
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book without reading any reviews. The cover and title looked interesting, so I started to read it on my Kindle. One of the first things you see on an e-reader is a page that says "this is a work of fiction...." In other words, a novel. But before long I started noticing footnotes. Who puts footnotes in a novel? And those little news clippings at the beginning of each chapter looked authentic. I was confused - it was reading like a well documented memoir.

Whatever it was, it held
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
The opening of this book pulled me in with the promise of a fun adventure story, featuring a woman disguised as a man in 19th century America. But this novel is based on the life of a real woman, and by the last third it turns into a tragedy.

In 1855, after a failed marriage and leaving her young daughter to be raised by her family, Lucy Ann Lobdell set out in disguise to earn her living. As Joseph, a teacher of music and dance, she won the heart of a young woman; later, she became a frontier gua
Sonja Arlow
Imagine a society where women had no rights, no real prospects besides being a maid servant or a wife, who were not even allowed to wear pants! After being abandoned by her husband, Lucy left her 3 year old daughter in the care of her family and set out to find a better life. It became clear early on in the novel that Lucy was struggling with her own sexuality and sense of self and for most part that struggle left even me confused on her behalf.

Initially I didn’t like Lucy or this novel, but she
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The author treated his subject, Lucy/Joseph with true respect. He truly seemed to be in sync with the real Lucy/Joseph. I got a little lost timeline-wise, but that was cleared up in the author's note at the end. Joseph's wife, Marie, was a strong character herself, which wasn't apparent at first. What a woman she was! It's a travesty that Lucy/Joseph, and others like her were treated as criminals and/or insane. What surprised me was the number of people who knew her ' ...more
Laurie Larson-Doornbos
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lucy Ann was on the run. Her abusive husband had left her, she had no way to support her toddler daughter, and she was living once again with her disapproving family. Her options were slim. So Lucy Ann Slater, always more comfortable outside than in, a better shot than a seamstress, became Joseph Lobdell--and wearing short hair and her brother's clothes, her mannerisms studied, she passed. Initially, I thought Lucy's story would be closer to Viola's in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In the end, Lu ...more
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are some characters that are so wild, so wholly original, so fascinating and so ahead of their time and place that they could only be real and could only be captured in fiction. Lucy Ann Lobdell was one such character. Casting off the limitations imposed by her gender in 1800s, the time where women were barely more than property, she chose to live her life and find her freedoms as a man. This was, of course, to mixed results, and, had society been kinder and more accepting, then, quite, po ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
William Klaber has given us a rare gift. In his new historical novel The Rebellion of Lucy Ann Lobdell, he brings to life the remarkable story of a notorious but almost forgotten 19th century trailblazer from New York State. This is an extraordinary story of courage, determination, love and misfortune. Lucy had the audacity to cross lines forbidden to women and live as a man with the liberties of a man. Taking such risks cost her dearly, but she dared to live her life according to her truth.

Lauri Rottmayer
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.

I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction but this story, based on a real woman, captivated me. She left her home to make a life for her daughter and herself by posing as a man. I liked her spunky attitude earlier in her life and it was sad to see how society (and her family!) treated her as she continued trying to be the person that she was.

Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-in-history
In 1855, Lucy Ann Lobdell cut her hair, donned her brother’s clothing, and ran away from her home in southern New York to live the rest of her life as a man. Her travels took her down the Erie Canal to Pennsylvania, to the western frontier in Minnesota, and back east again, where she found love with a fellow runaway named Marie. During her lifetime, Lucy, who went by Joseph, professed a desire to write a memoir of her life; now, more than 150 years later, William Klaber has taken on the task she ...more
Dixie LoCicero
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was on Barnes and Noble for my Nook, very inexpensive, sounded interesting. I am so glad I found this book! It actually is based on a real person, Lucy Ann Lobdell, in the late 1800s, who as a young girl dressed in "male" clothing, learned to hunt, etc. At that time, females had very limited opportunities, whether it was for schooling or jobs. Lucy got married, had a daughter, then her husband abandoned them. She lived with her parents & siblings, but her mother never approved of h ...more
Dec 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-reads
Lucy Ann Lobdell chose to live her life as Joseph Lobdell from a very early age. Lucy marries, against her parents' wishes, a man that is selfish and cruel. A drunk, once Lucy gives birth to their daughter, Helen, her husband abandons her without a word. Lucy finds herself shamed by her husband and unable to swallow her pride to return home. She leaves her daughter in her family's care and goes into the world on her own.

When she begins to travel, she makes the decision to live her life as a man.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
We put the question of whether or not a man can write a convincing female character to rest with Flaubert and Tolstoy. Here we have William Klaber writing a convincing character who is a lesbian, and in so doing allowing her to deal with all the personal and societal questions that 1850 small town and wilderness life (in this case Pennsylvania and Minnesota) can throw her way. Bravo!

Klaber was led to his story by coming into possession of a satchel full of journal entries and news clippings abou
Sep 05, 2014 added it
Lots of thoughts, which is a good thing.
1. Glad I read it.
2. It's an okay book, but the story deserves a better one.
3. It fizzled out in the last quarter.
4. The idea that sexual identity crises have existed since people have existed is well represented, since the story takes place in the 19th century but cabn be seen as an outline of the 20th century history of gay rights.
5. Mr. Klaber captures the innate gentleness of a woman, even one who wears mens' clothes and hunts, very well.
6. Mr. Klaber
Kathy Clevenger
Jul 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I normally don't provide any comments to support my ratings, but I after finishing this book, I'm almost compelled to. Did I love this book? No. Would I recommend it? Perhaps. But what is even more important than either of those is the fact that the person of Lucy Ann Loddell has continued to interest me even after I have finished the story and placed the book up on the shelf. I've sought out more information about her on the internet, and found myself wondering how she found the strength and co ...more
Heather Domin
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
To be reviewed in the May edition of Historical Novels Review. Excellent book, highly recommended!
Ceillie Simkiss
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Given as an ARC via netgalley.

Thoroughly enjoyable telling of the life of Lucy Ann Lobdell, though I think he would have preferred to be called Joseph.
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Lucy Ann Lobdell was a real person who lived on the frontier before the civil war. She, famously at the time, passed as a man for most of her life and eventually married a woman. There is historical documentation of her exploits, she went through her share of trials and incarceration and the NY Times in 1879 wrote a detailed feature on her (technically her obituary). But the author felt there was not enough for a purely non-fiction work. Instead, he wove all of his years of research, plus what l ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This will be a difficult review, not because of the book’s content, but because it coves a large time frame & many social mores, moral & ethical issues and issues regarding women’s civil rights! Lucy Ann Lobdell is very proud that her father taught her to fish, hunt & shoot accurately! In order to escape a dreary marriage, she decides to pose as a man in order to find work that will support herself & her daughter! She poses as a music teacher which eventually causes great problem ...more
Diana C. Nearhos
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This was a very enjoyable read. It's not exactly profound, and I'm not sure I'll reread, but it was an enjoyable quick read.

My only complaint was a time gap in the middle, though I understand Klaber was trying to largely keep to her actual history and that time is unaccounted for. But if you're already fictionalizing, I would have liked a little more.
Linda Lpp
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting to read of pioneer days and the challenges needed to survive. Lucy was one tough character, that experienced incredible hardships. But she endured, and became a trail blazer for women.
I've always been interested in historical novels about women who dress as men. Their motivations may tell us about the period in which they lived. These women usually didn't want to be men. They wanted male freedoms--especially freedom of movement. They wanted to engage in activities that weren't permitted for women. In one novel I read the protagonist simply wanted to disguise herself so that she wouldn't be recognized by pursuers. Yet in Revolutionary by Alex Myers the question of the protagon ...more
Warning: for some, I may give away too much of the plot, here. If you don't like that, don't read these thoughts.

I apologize for my use of pronouns, that may be confusing, or even offensive, in the following; that’s hardly my intent, but it is reflective of this historical novel.

In 1855 Lucy Ann Lobdell left her parent’s house, leaving behind her daughter, her husband had deserted her, to wear men’s clothes and earn a man’s wage. She went to school in Westerlo and Coxsackie and for a time, as a
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Not true to reality 3 41 Apr 15, 2014 12:56PM  
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William Klaber is a part-time journalist who lives with his wife Jean in upstate New York. In 1990 he joined a group of researchers who were going through the newly opened LAPD files concerning the murder of Robert Kennedy who had been murdered in Los Angeles in 1968 moments after winning the California presidential primary. A young gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, was caught at the scene, but despite of t ...more
“We had been given flowers, good food, and a soft bed, all in exchange for declaring our love. I thought we might go from town to town and marry in each one.” 3 likes
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