At Home in the World: Women Writers and Public Life from Austen to the Present

Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-691-13811-4
Princeton professors Nord (Gypsies and the British Imagination, 1807–1930) and DiBattista (Imagining Virginia Woolf) devote their first joint work to critiquing the idea that women’s writing has historically focused on marriage and general domesticity while remaining ignorant of or uncompelled by the great political and social events of their day. The authors elucidate how women writers, from the 19th century to the present, have redefined patriarchal conceptions of home and responded to public-sphere concerns including world war, political consciousness, and the colonization of the American West. It’s hardly a new argument, but Nord and DiBattista make it convincing, compelling, and—perhaps most importantly—concise. Spending just few pages at a time on each novel, Nord and DiBattista’s readings are close but not confining, and compact enough to illuminate the overall narrative without dragging it down. Readers acquainted with the writers discussed, who range chronologically from Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë to Nadine Gordimer and Marilynne Robinson, will eagerly await their favorite books’ four pages of fame. The book’s style makes it accessible to less seasoned readers expanding their literary knowledge. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 296 pages - 978-1-4008-8477-3
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