Tag Archives: women

Reviews ~ Unsung Ladylike (and not so Ladylike) Women of Note

4,000 Years of Uppity Women by Vicki Leon  Available for around $11.00

UppityThere is one aisle I should never, ever visit at Barnes and Noble; but oh the treasurers I would miss.  I really can’t walk into one of those stores without browsing up and down the bargain aisle.  Not only are there delightful treasures, but they are at such tempting prices.  Even though I’m now in publishing and know what those discounts mean to the author; well, they’re irresistible.  This past week I finally had an opportunity to check out one of those bargains and had a few much needed giggles.

Leon has created a little book of vignettes about the life and times of a number of women from the past.  This is a rollicking quick read.  It is obviously well researched.  You are introduced to the antics of ruler and slave, mistress and bored wife, business woman, intellectual, highway robber, patriot, nun and scoundrel.  Some of these women were way ahead of their time; some just made the best use possible of the available resources.  Here are a few of these windows on the past.

Fabiola, an early Christian.  Long before the Nightingale of the Crimean war, Fabiola established the first free public hospital in the Western world.  She didn’t wait for her patients to come to her – she went out and found them.

Back in the time of Alchemists, and interesting lady named Mary Prophetissa not only contributed much to the science of chemistry, she is the inventor of the double boiler.  It must have been very helpful boiling and brewing all those potions.

I loved the robbers and pirates, the brave patriots and Australian who arrived as a criminal and ended up on a $20 bill.  I learned that Betsy Ross did not create the Old Glory that inspired Francis Scott Key was one Baltimore widow named Mary Young Pickersgill.  She created a wool flag that was 42 feet long and 30 feet wide.  It used 400 yards of material and weighed 85 pounds.  Pickersgill’s handwritten invoice was $405.90.

A couple of other ladies never mentioned in such rousing poetry as Paul Revere is a lady who road on horseback for 10 miles alerting the country folk of an impending attack (Mr. Revere didn’t make it that far) and a Quaker woman who bluffed her way through enemy lines to warn Washington of an impending attack.  Never lying through her bluffing or through her integration (evidently the right questions were not asked) she was still kicked out of the Friends for being too involved in the war.

Many bits and pieces of the high and the really low, the celibate and those who found their identity less focused on the opposite sex, or not focused at all.  Each and every one had an impact on her times and some far into the future.  It’s a great short read and I highly recommend it.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Before Current Era, My Bookshelf ~ Current Era

Book Review – Plain and Simple

Plain and Simple, By: Sue Bender
Readily available for less than $15.00

I decided before writing this review I would glance through a few of the reviews on Amazon to get some idea of what other people were saying.  My, my.  Sometimes I wonder if I have read the same book!

Perhaps it’s me, but my viewpoint on the book was 180 degrees from some of the input on the website.  I found the book some years ago when I, too, was looking for a different viewpoint, a different way of seeing things.  Since there is an artist hidden somewhere inside of me, I was drawn to the description on the dust jacket that indicated the author was first drawn to the “idea of the Amish” through their art.  Most markedly their quilts.  Her first introduction to the quilts was in 1967.  Sometime later she was struck by another art form of the Amish; faceless dolls.  She sought out an Amish woman that would make two dolls for her since they are not something on the open market.  By 1982 her personal haunting found an outlet and she arranged to spend some time with an Amish family.  It was sometime later that she was able to arrange a second visit in a different community with slightly different personalities and traditions.

This is not a book about the Amish per se.  It is about a particular person’s search to find whatever quality it is that creates this quiet eye of the storm represented by Amish communities and craftsmanship.  She chose the analogy of the quilts because she was able to “rearrange the pieces” of her mental quilt to find the pattern most fulfilling and intriguing to her.  The faceless dolls also gave her food for thought and a basis of inner reflection regarding the way she looked at life.  Yes, the book is her book, centered on her beliefs, her experiences and her interpretations.  That is the point of a personal journey.  It is the reader’s choice whether or not to join the author on the journey.  Her perspectives of the people she shared her time with bear an honest stamp of, “Could I do that?” And, yet she shows respect for the way they have shaped their lives around a central idea and body of beliefs.  I think her quest was to find some central idea or belief to support her life choices.  As it happens, she does find the tools.  A later book describes her struggle to implement those tools.  Conversion experiences are always uplifting but it is a different thing to take that feeling home and incorporate it in your day to day life.

I found the book special to my own thought processes and recognized the struggle she had between the life we usually lead and the one that lives quietly within us.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Current times

Book Review – Hatchepsut, The Female Pharaoh

A text by:  Joyce Tyldesley and readily available in paperback for less than $15.00

Since I love ancient history I usually hunt through bookstore shelves for little known titles.  Sometimes the dusty, cluttered and unorganized used bookshop can produce the most fascinating bits of wisdom.  I can’t say precisely where I found this particular gem, however the pricing on the dust jacket tells me that is was most likely on one of those adventurous afternoons in a cavernous used bookshop.

Hatshepsut was born the eldest daughter of Thutmose I.  According to royal Egyptian custom, she was married to her half brother Thutmose II and became the guardian of her stepson-nephew Thutmose III.  As a ruler she went against then-accepted tradition and set herself up as King and Pharaoh.  The archeology that we can now piece together indicates that during her reign Egypt was internally at peace, was active in foreign exploration, actively pursued monumental projects and prospered for a number of years.  Sadly, her stepson took issue with her approach and methods and, once he took the throne,  led the effort to literally wipe any knowledge of her from history.  In Egyptian religious practice that was tantamount to eternal death.

This book authored by Joyce Tyldesley brings together a number of sources that help us piece together the life and times of this rather innovative monarch.  The book has photos, drawings, maps and an extensive bibliography.  A quote from the introduction will set the tone:

“While it is very difficult for any biographer to remain entirely impartial about his or her subject, I am attempting to provide the non-specialist reader with an objective and unbiased account of the life and times of King Hatchepsut, gathered from the researches of those Egyptologists who have spent years studying, sometimes in minute detail, the individual threads of evidence which, when woven together, form the tapestry of her reign. It is up to the reader to decide on the rights or wrongs of her actions.”

This is the type of book that introduces a reader to historical research without bogging down a “non-specialist” in academic jargon.  I found it a delightful read.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Before Current Era