Friday, November 18, 2022

Eleven novels about women misbehaving and making history

Kate Manning is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Gilded Mountain, My Notorious Life, and Whitegirl. A former documentary television producer and winner of two Emmy Awards, she has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Time, Glamour, and The Guardian, among other publications. She has taught creative writing at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan, and lives with her family in New York City.

[The Page 69 Test: My Notorious Life]

At Electric Lit Manning tagged "eleven novels [that] challenge notions of how women lived in the past." One title on the list:
What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins

Laura Bridgman was celebrated in the 1800s because she was the first deaf-blind person to acquire the use of language, fifty years before Helen Keller. But it was her wit and ferocity that marked her as extraordinary. She stunned large audiences with displays of her knowledge and abilities: sewing, housekeeping, and writing letters and poems. Her fame and accomplishments were credited to the teaching of the brilliant Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, founder of the Perkins Institute in Boston, where Laura—blind and deaf from scarlet fever since the age of two—was taken at age seven. The novel weaves together Bridgman’s story with that of Howe and his wife, the poet, suffragist, and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe. Laura is mischievous and sometimes violently temperamental. Dr. Howe dictates what she may eat and read, and when she is disobedient, he punishes her by gloving her hands, thereby depriving her of her only method of communication. And yet, she musters a profound courage and makes a life at Perkins. Elkins gives full throat to Laura’s strong voice. What Is Visible illuminates the historical willful ignorance of men, and women’s struggles to be seen and heard. Laura Bridgman’s important story has been hiding in plain sight for more than 100 years, and Kimberly Elkins resurrects her to the narrative of American history in all her remarkable, fully human complexity.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

The Page 69 Test: What Is Visible.

--Marshal Zeringue