Ruth Hall and Other Writings

Fanny Fern, Author Rutgers University Press $30 (391p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1167-2
Fanny Fern was the half-mocking nom de plume of Sara Willis, one of the most popular and well-paid newspaper columnists in the U.S. when Ruth Hall was first published in 1854. The sketchy plot and character development and brevity of the chapters attest to Fern's journalistic background, but the novel's depth of emotion and gritty portrayal of the depredations of poverty make up for its literary shortcomings. The eponymous heroine is particularly refreshing: unlike many central female characters of the time, she is not punished for taking command of her own life. Even more stirring than the novel is the selection of newspaper columns, most of which are as pertinent today as they were 120 years ago. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 06/01/1986
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