Fiona Jeffcoat-Yu left an interesting comment in response to my list of female protagonists, with two recommendations for further reading.
The first is an academic study called All-American Girl: The Ideal of Real Womanhood in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America, by Frances B. Cogan, 1989. This is a University of Georgia Press book and will probably be a bit of a challenge to find in paperback, but I think I’ll have to have a look at it if only to give me more to argue with the next time somebody writes to say that Elizabeth Middleton is an anachronism.
(The two extremes of criticism I have got about my Elizabeth are: (1) she’s unrealistic for her time; (2) she’s June Cleaver. In the first case, I reject the criticism on the basis on historical fact, and in the second, I laugh. I can’t see June Cleaver going after Jack Lingo with a rifle butt.)
Fiona’s second recommendation was for a novel, Thalassa Ali’s A Singular Hostage (Bantam ISBN: 0553381768) which is a historical set in 1836, and looks to be the kind of book I like best, with a heroine in line with My List of Seven. I’m ordering a copy from Village Books today.
To me saying that Elizabeth is unrealistic for her time is akin to saying that a slave or indentured servant of that time wanting to crave their freedom is to say the same… UnREALiSTiC? i think NOT!
Elizabeth wanted the freedom to learn and grow, to have control of her future. Since most authors of history of this time were religious, military, political leaders and MALE, no wonder we precieve such one sided-veiws on how things were.
I personally do not think that way…last year, i had a young man in his mid teens discuss with me about the movie, A KNIGHT’S TALE, a teacher of his, had pointed out to his class, HOW UNReALiSTiC most of the behaviour was for the time.. and the MUSIC!
iT makes one wonder…
Being the mother of two teens… and a previous TEEN, myseLf some decades ago…i somehow do NOT think this BeHAViOR started in the twentith century… the rebeLiOUS behavior… the MuSiC… though i might of had the thought that MY GENERATiON was the FiRST to FEEL and DO things… as the ones before me and after me..
YeARs ago when i was in my earLy 20’s, i came upon a quote… i think by Socrates… about the WiLDNESS of TEENAGeRs…
ONLy i did NOT know it was him in his time… I THOUGHT iT was WRiTTEN by SOME ADULT from MY TIME! LOL!
So MANy THiNGs have changed through-out the years…CeNTURiEs…but, i TRULY BELiEVE that basic MANKiND remains the same… CULTURes change… DReAMs change…
One WONDeRs, just HOW MANY ELiZABeTHs that there TRULy were… in her story, She was just LUCKy ENOUGH to find a man who would allow her to have her freedom. i think we can learn more from personal letters of the time what people really thought… JMHO.