Novel Set in New York’s Gilded Age Shows Family Strife, Adultery and Rebellion Never Go Out of Fashion
Manhattan-based author Diana Forbes’s debut novel, Mistress Suffragette, plays up the humor, and the anguish, that her book’s title suggests. Can a young woman reconcile her roles as mistress of a well-to-do womanizer and a supporter of women’s independence in the Suffrage Movement?
This light-hearted read takes you back in time to the late 19th-century Gilded Age in Boston and New York, but the plight of her clever main character, Penelope, has a timelessness that every 21st-century woman will recognize.
Penelope Stanton, recently impoverished by her family’s financial downfall, walks a thorny line between living as a ‘kept’ woman and keeping her integrity intact — in dismal poverty. After her family’s ruin, she leaves home to make her way and encounters an odd cast of characters who open her eyes to new possibilities. At a time when corsets and bustles confined the female sex, Penelope’s new bloomers-wearing, bicycle straddling, gender-hopping friend, Verdana, brazenly turns heads. And her avant-garde artist friend, Stone Aldrich, rejects the dreamy landscapes of the age in favor of painting prostitutes’ portraits.
Where Penelope’s gutsy spirit comes out in full force is in her dealings with her unrelenting would-be lover, the adulterous Edgar Daggers. Used to having his way with women — many women, it turns out, he meets his match in his pursuit of the fledgling Suffragette, Penelope.
– Lisa Phillips is a prolific reader who enjoys reading and reviewing books of all genres.