Monday, June 15, 2009

Tempting Book

A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert looks good. The review in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review opens this way: “Nearly everything about Kate Walbert’s new novel is wickedly smart….”

Here’s more: “Like [Walbert’s] last novel, Our Kind,” which was a National Book Award finalist, “A Short History of Women” consists of linked stories: in this case, 15 lean, concentrated chapters that hopscotch through time and alternate among the lives of Dorothy Trevor Townsend, a British suffragist, and a handful of her descendants. Several of the stories have been previously published; most could stand alone. Yet together they coalesce into more than the sum of their parts. It is Walbert’s conceit that while the oldest and youngest generations never meet, they share a legacy of echoes: objects and phrases that repeat mysteriously, and with increasing significance, across the decades. This spare novel manages, improbably, to live up to its title: it delivers what feels like a reasonably representative history of women — at least of white, Anglo-Saxon women, over the past hundred-odd years.”

I loved Our Kind, which is a great example of linked stories as well as a great example of the collective first person (“we”) as narrator.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.