Civil War Women: American Women Shaped by Conflict in Stories by Alcott, Chopin, Welty, and Others

Frank McSherry, Editor, Charles Waugh, Editor, Martin Harry Greenberg, Editor August House Publishers $8.94 (175p) ISBN 978-0-87483-061-3
Elegant or restrained, proud or self-deprecating, the voices in this collection of 10 stories depicting American Civil War women resound. The various heroines share a common triumph in ``having some part to play, however small, in the public world that was largely off-limits to them during peacetime.'' Two young women, a Southerner and a Northerner, sequestered in a neutral mountain town, must confront their opposing loyalties in ``Crowder's Cove'' by Constance Fenimore Woolson (a Yankee contemporary of the war). In Elsie Singmaster's (1879-1958) ``The Battleground,'' a grieving widow of Gettysburg finds comfort and honor in Lincoln's address: ``Later she read it and learned it and taught it to her children and her children's children.'' The spirited, strong Patience in ``Comrades,'' by women's rights activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward (1844-1911), is one of the most memorable protagonists. On Memorial Day 1910, she marches in the parade with her ailing husbandthe last Civil War veteran of their townas she declares: ``I've earned the right to.'' Though black voices are notably absent from the stories (the introduction maintains that black women have published mainly novels on the topic) the volume's lingering image is Delilah, the slave in Eudora Welty's ``The Burning.'' After their house is torched by Northern soldiers, her two spinster mistresses force Delilah to aid in their suicides, yet this heroine's survival is itself a victory over the women, her captors, who would deny her motherhood, dignity and, ultimately, life. The editors previously collaborated on Nightmares in Dixie. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 175 pages - 978-0-671-70248-9
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