Feminist Convert: A Portrait of Mary Ellen Chase

Evelyn Hyman Chase, Author John Daniel & Company Books $9.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-936784-70-0
Here the sister-in-law (who died prepublication) of the late writer and Smith professor Mary Ellen Chase describes the societal strictures that bound Chase, doctrines dictating that a woman devote herself either to a husband and children, or to a careernamely teachingbut not both. While she always believed strongly in women's abilities, Mary Chase accepted that they could not succeed at both family and career, maintains Evelyn Chase. It was not until 1962, when she read her former student Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique , that Mary Chase understood women's full rights and potentials. It is, presumably, to this conversion that the biography's title refers, but as explained here the process was implausibly abrupt. Moreover, the treatment of Mary Chase's probable lesbianism is evasive; her relationship with Eleanor Duckett is not probed sufficiently. Mary Chase comes across in this work as energetic, stimulating and devoted, with a tendency toward conventional views, but the book, clearly a labor of love, though lively and informative, could have benefited from more scrupulous editing. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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