So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Scarlet Women. J. D. Christilian

This book has the format of a historical detective novel, complete with a Marlowesque detective and a double murder to be solved. The detail of 19th century New York life and personalities makes this a delightful work for lovers of this period.

Yet within this framework, this fictional mystery novel also takes a probing look at the status of women in 1870s New York. The title Scarlet Women refers to the depiction that women had few choices other than prostitution to earn a living at the time.

One of the reasons I read and liked the novel is that it gives an accurate and sensitive portayal of the famous 19th century feminist, spiritualist and free-thinker Victoria Woodhull. Even 130 years later, some of her ideas are still too liberal for mainstream America!

So if you like your detective novels with a strong feminist flavour and historical accuracy I recommend this book. It succeeds as a mystery, a social commentary, and a historic novel.


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