Book descriptions

Forgotten Suffragists for Younger Readers: The Voice of Liberty by Angelica Shirley Carpenter

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 in Cicero, New York, near Syracuse. The important role she played in the women’s suffrage movement has been marginalized, overshadowed by figures like Susan B. Anthony and Eliabeth Cady Stanton.

“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” Gage wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal—a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged.

Angelica Shirley Carpenter has a new picture book out for grades 2 – 6: The Voice of Liberty, with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press (2020). The book tells how three suffragists, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Lillie’s daughter, Katherine “Katie” Devereux Blake, led a protest at the 1886 dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Read More→


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Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler are a duo of books intended to have become a trilogy, though the third never came to be. Now that we inhabit the time in which the novels actually take place, they’re more eerily prescient than ever.

When Parable of Sower (1993) begins, Lauren Olamina is a young Black woman just emerging from her teens, navigating the apocalyptic world of Los Angeles in the 2020s. A fight — and flight — for survival leads to her create a new faith called Earthseed, in hopes of repairing the world.

We find Lauren once again at the center of Parable of the Talents, now a young mother and still fighting to salvage humanity with Earthseed, the new faith she founded. Now she’s battling violent bigots and religious fanatics.

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Beautiful New Editions of Octavia E. Butler Classics

It’s possible that Octavia E. Butler’s speculative, dystopian, and science fiction novels and short stories have been over-described as “prescient.” But there’s hardly a better word for many of her major works, and in tandem with her keen observance of human nature, they’ve transcended genre to become classic literature.

In her New York Times obituary, Butler was described as “an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer whose evocative, often troubling novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power, and ultimately, what it meant to be human.” Read More→


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The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier (1957)

The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier, published in 1957, was one of the British author’s successful mid-career novels, coming after Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and My Cousin Rachel. In her skillful hands, this suspense novel makes an ingenious doppelgänger plot work on many levels.

In brief, it’s the story of a disaffected Englishman and an aristocratic Frenchman who meet by an accidental encounter and are at once struck by how much they resemble one another.

John, an English academic, is compelled by Count Jean de Gué into switching places with him. What ensues is how he is swept into the count’s complicated intrigues and family life. From the 1957 Doubleday edition:

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The Reef by Edith Wharton (1912)

The Reef by Edith Wharton, published in 1912, came more or less in the middle of her novel-writing career. It came after the triumph of The House of Mirth and before her Pulitzer Prize-winning turn with The Age of Innocence.

The author herself wasn’t pleased with this book, writing her regrets over it to a friend not long after its publication, describing it as a “poor miserable lifeless lump,” and vowed that next time she was “going to do something worthwhile!”

Some critics tended to agree with Wharton’s self-assessment. The New York Sun’s review called The Reef “a bitter, disheartening, sordid story and we could wish that Mrs. Wharton would look on brighter and nobler aspects of life.”

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