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Riveting, exquisitely detailed and beautifully rendered, the true-life story of a remarkable and exclusively feminine society, gathered at the turn of the twentieth century in Greenwich Village, NY, in an informal and highly-connected club – a powerhouse of informed, educated and motivated champions, prepared to weigh in on the issues of the day, ranging from the somewhat nebulous challenges of “feminism”, to the more specific agenda of “women’s rights, Socialism and labor laws, sexual autonomy and access to birth control, and racial justice”.

“A network of mutual support whose legacy runs long and deep into the lives of its members”.

This unusual and tight-knit group of friends (and sometimes lovers), meeting in a “place where ideas burst forth from intimacy”, show us how “women, denied the vote, get things done.“

In a world, one scant century behind us, where women were still essentially the property of men (be it their husbands, or the patriarchy at large), this eclectic group gathered, essentially apolitical in this formation, yet hugely influential in the causes championed and the connections sparked, literally changing the world that followed in terms of both tangible policy and the broader social freedoms eventually afforded women.

Followed closely and documented here are the exploits of this team centering on one ten-year period only – that of the first decade of the group’s formation – the years encompassing 1912 to the early 1920’s.

In that timespan, the scope of issues championed include (and are not limited to): the passing of the U.S Nineteenth Amendment; labor laws protecting (primarily female) worker safety and entitlements; women’s right to vote, school-board mandatory maternity leave and job security for married teachers, Freudian analysis and the enlightenment of women’s psychological awakening, pacifism and women’s role in anti-war activism before and during WW1.

Recounted in a story-telling style focusing on the lives, loves, and exploits of many of these remarkable women, this chatty, encyclopedic narrative is both fascinating in its peek into a charmed and challenged world, and an incredibly informative look at the dawn of feminist history.

With tools in their arsenal that ranged far beyond their initial informed debates, this small group of women, ahead-of-their-day in economics, schooling and professional accomplishments, in their roles as journalists, writers, physicians, lawyers, artists and educators, raised public awareness and championed causes supported, leveraging art and theatrical pageants, summits, books, magazines, pamphlets, marches, parades and public-education briefings.

For this reader, the glimpses provided into this time period, (just over a hundred years hence ), the feminist challenges faced, lifestyles proudly championed, choices rendered, friendship celebrated, and most of all, the optimism, hope and strength of convictions exemplified, came together in a colorful explosion so inspiring and poignant that my admiration for these women, (in context with the recognition of what can only be seen as as the current-day cultural feminist slippage, cynicism, widespread atrophy and some terrible truths) inspired a sort of nostalgic wistfulness.

A wonderful read, highly recommended, this is a book for every person interested in women and the feminist agenda, to savor, study, and perhaps, most importantly, to learn from.

My stop today on the @RandomTTours #blogtour for Hotbed by @Joanna_Scutts.

A great big thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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