The road to justice is rarely short and never easy.
Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, by Ellen Carol DuBois, was published last year. The book tells the story of the first leg of the American feminist movement in the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century. It starts around the time of the Civil War. Though women in the United States are legally disenfranchised, they are vocal members of the Abolitionist Movement. When black men get the vote and women are still barred from the ballet box, the fire is lit. Led by foremothers such as Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth, the reader is taken through the difficult journey that led to the 19th Amendment.
I loved this book. It was one of those history books that has an appeal beyond the expected academic and feminist audience. It was readable and accessible without resorting to a list of dry facts. I also appreciated the spotlight on the African-American women who were just as important to the movement, but were ignored by their white peers.
I recommend it.
P.S. Today is Equal Pay Day, a timely reminder that the battle for real equality is far from over.
Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer), was given the name of Sarah Breedlove at birth. Born just two years after the end of the Civil War, her early life was difficult. Working as a laundress to take care of herself and her daughter, Lelia (Tiffany Haddish), her fate changes when she meets Addie (Carmen Ejojo). Addie is a successful hairstylist who offers to help Sarah with her hair in return for free laundry.
When Sarah shows that she has a skill for sales, Addie turns her down. This leads Sarah, who will soon be known as Madam C.J. Walker down the path of starting her own business. But, like any new business, there are pitfalls. Sarah’s 3rd husband, Charles James Walker (Blair Underwood) appears to be accepting of his wife’s non-traditional choices. There are also betrayals and Addie’s constant attempts to bring Sarah down once and for all.
I enjoyed this miniseries. It was a history lesson without feeling like a history lesson. As we look to the past and voices who previously have been silenced or minimized, this series highlights the accomplishments of those who rightly deserve the limelight.
I recommend it.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is available for streaming on Netflix.
For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
Little Women is one of the true classics of American literature. Louisa May Alcott‘s 1868 novel has been the favorite of many readers (myself included) since it’s debut 150 years ago.
A few weeks ago, Little Women, written by playwright/actress Kate Hamill premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City.
Stepping into the roles of the iconic March sisters are Hamill (Meg), Kristolyn Lloyd (Jo), Paola Sanchez Abreu (Beth) and Carmen Zilles (Amy). The narrative of the play follows the narrative of the book: The March sisters are growing up and coming of age in Civil War era Massachusetts. Meg is responsible, but also yearns to be fit in. Jo is the rebellious tomboy who dreams of becoming a writer. Beth is shy, preferring the company of her family to the company of strangers. Amy is spoiled and impulsive.
This play is brilliant. As a fan and a playwright, Hamill understands how to adapt a beloved classic for this generation. She has also hit on certain underlying subjects within the narrative that have been overlooked in the past.
One of my favorite aspects of the play is the non-traditional casting. In choosing actors that are not all Caucasian, this adaptation speaks to all of us, regardless of skin color.
Though I will warn the some purists may have some issues with the choices that Hamill made as a playwright.
I recommend it.
Little Women is playing at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City until June 29th. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
Immigrant has become a dirty word in this country, especially since you know who became President.
While the ban on Transgender troops was lifted last year, there are many who are willing and able to serve, but are given the runaround when they present themselves as recruits.
Today, the Associated Press reported that immigrant recruits are being quietly discharged by the military.
Not only is America the land of immigrants, but her military is made up of immigrants or children of immigrants. My grandfathers, the sons of Jewish immigrants, served their country in World War II. One of my great-uncles served in World War I. Many Irish immigrants fought for the North and the South during the Civil War. Similarly, European immigrants fought for America during World War I. They wanted to prove that they were just as American as any native-born soldier.
The fact is that America has not had a draft since Vietnam. Everyone who signs up for the military is doing so of their own free will. They know, just as we know, that it is an honorable, but perilous profession.
To potentially put your life on the line to protect the American people, reveals to me at least, the nature of those who join the military. I could say the same thing about you know who, but he did use the excuse of “bone spurs” to get out of serving in Vietnam.
Little Women for those unaware, is the story of the four March sisters growing up in Civil War era Massachusetts. Their father is away, fighting for the Union, leaving his wife, known as Marmee to her daughters, to be both mother and father.
Meg, the oldest, is level-headed and responsible. Jo (short for Josephine), is the tomboy, the son her father never had and the wannabe writer. Beth is the homebody who rarely socializes outside of her family circle. Amy, the baby of the family, is artistic, but spoiled and selfish. Living in genteel poverty, the girls, the mother and their longtime housekeeper, Hannah do the best they can under their circumstances.
What I love about this book is that it is so universal. While the sisters are archetypes, Alcott brilliantly fleshed them out so they are fully formed characters. She also allows her characters to grow in a very organic way, instead of forcing adulthood upon them. There is also, as there is often is with books by female writers before the modern era, an undercurrent of feminism.
It’s been 23 years since the last film adaptation of Little Women was released.
Next year, PBS will be airing their own adaptation of Little Women.
When I think of Little Women, I think of how much I understand these girls and their journey. I also think how much this book mean to me when I was growing up and how it led me to become the bookworm I am today.
Louisa May Alcott, thank you for this amazing, wonderful book that continues to last. May the book and your legacy live forever.