September 25, 2010

A Short History of Women :: Kate Walbert

Title: A Short History of Women
Author: Kate Walbert
Read: NYC
Format: Trade paperback

Kate Walbert's A Short History of Women is a multigenerational story that begins in 1914 with a British woman, Dorothy Trevor Townsend, who starves herself in the name of women's suffrage. The legacy of her sacrifice informs the lives and identities of the generations of daughters and granddaughters that come after her, both in the UK and America. All told, it's a beautiful, stirring story.

In the telling, though, it was a tiny bit uneven at times. Specifically, Walbert jumps around both in time (throughout the 20th century) and in voice (through the voices of Dorothy Townsend's descendants). This can be a moving device when wielded properly, but it falls a little short here, for me anyway. Personally, I just found certain stories/contexts more interesting than others and it made reading through less affecting segments seem chore-like at times. Not to say that any parts were weak, they certainly weren't; more that certain plot lines were especially wrenching.

Add it to your pile of to reads, I'd say. But it doesn't have to sit at the top.

Beautiful writing, great characters.
4 out of 5 stars.

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