Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) wrote more than 30 books, including the influential and perennially bestselling abolitionist work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and also bore seven children. She and Calvin Stowe were married for 50 years. Kilpack, inaugurating a romance series about the lives of famous women writers, looks at the early years of their marriage, when they had three children in two years and Harriet was barely established as a writer. The expectations for a woman in that day and age did not include serious intellectual work, and in Kilpack’s telling, both Harriet and Calvin must learn to take her career seriously in order to make their marriage work. Kilpack’s depiction of the challenges of juggling household management, childcare, and pen is convincing and touching, and her research is solid (and well-explained in the endnotes), but her prose is rather flat, side characters are standard types, and there is a tendency to repeat information. That said, as an examination of how much labor domesticity really involves, the book is surprisingly passionate—and entertaining. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017 Release date: 09/01/2017 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.