Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Stuff

As I work on a long post planned for later this month, I wanted to quickly mention a couple of things. First, Julie Rose was nice enough to interview me for her blog, Writers and Their Soundtracks. Take a look (and a listen)! And thanks, Julie!

Second, I've veered a little bit off the track of my usual reading with a biography, Martha Washington: An American Life. Having read a historical novel about Martha (my review of it will appear in the Historical Novels Review's November issue), I was curious to learn more about America's first First Lady. This biography is an excellent place to start: it's well researched and written in an accessible, readable style. (I rather wish I had read it before I tackled Barbara Hambly's novel Patriot Hearts a few years ago; I never could sort out all of Martha's relatives there.)

Brady never falls into the vice of judging Martha Washington by twenty-first-century standards; she doesn't condemn Martha for not holding modern views about slavery, for instance, and she doesn't turn her devotion to her husband and to her family into a saga of male oppression. Instead, she reminds us of Martha's fortitude amid heartbreaking losses (all of her children by her first marriage predeceased her), her husband George's evident respect and admiration for her, and the courage she displayed during the turbulent times of the American Revolution. At the same time, Brady shows us a side of Martha that's left out of American schoolbooks: her business acumen, grit, and charm.

This biography, in short, is well worth reading for those interested in American history and/or the role of women in history. Give it a go this election season.

4 comments:

Julie K. Rose said...

Yay! Thanks for playing along!

Alianore said...

The Martha book sounds very interesting - I know nothing at all about her, so maybe I should give it a try.

Carla said...

Interesting soundtrack! I like your choice of O Fortuna.

Catherine Delors said...

About "modern" views of slavery. There was a very vocal abolitionist movement in the 18th century, which culminated with the abolition of slavery in all French-held territories in 1794.
So many people, in Europe and the young United States (Franklin, for instance) already considered slavery an abhorrent institution in Martha Washington's time.