Advance reader reviews of A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert.

A Short History of Women

A Novel

By Kate Walbert

A Short History of Women
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2009,
    256 pages.

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There are currently 16 member reviews
for A Short History of Women
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  • Lee M. (Creve Coeur, Missouri)

    A Short History of Women
    WOW, so it didn't start in the 60's with Steinem and Friedan! Kate Walbert's book is a wonderful exploration of women, their foibles and their victories. Should be required reading for all our teenagers.
  • Marissa P. (Tarrytown, NY)

    Difficult Read
    This book jumped around so much that it was hard to follow. No character was developed adequately and the book at most was dull.
  • Alexandra K. (Pittsburgh, PA)

    A Short History of Women
    At times I had a very difficult time getting the characters straight and had to go to the beginning of the book to read as to who was who. So I cannot highly recommend this book - I found it tedious to read and really quite uninteresting.
  • Anna S. (Auburn, AL)

    A Short History of Women
    It took me a while to get into this book and I was convinced that I wouldn't like it because it jumps around a lot and it took quite a bit of attention to keep the relationships among the characters straight. I stayed with it and am glad that I did because Walbert writes so beautifully. It touches on the lives of five generations of women beginning with a suffragette who starves herself to death. Each of the other women, from her daughter to her great-great granddaughter struggles with her own issues but nothing is ever tied up neatly with a bow. With all five women I was left wanting to know more.

    I think book clubs will find a lot to discuss in this one!
  • Sharon S. (Stanley, N.C.)

    A Short History of Women
    The year is 1914 the eve of WWI and the British Women's Suffrage Movement. This is where the author introduces us to the matriarch of the Townsend family, Dorothy Trevor Townsend. Walbert creates a strong female who makes a controversial decision that will ultimately change the Townsend women for five generations. The only problem - Walbert's chronology of the characters was at best hard to follow, I had to keep referring to the lineage chart. Walbert weaves a tapestry of love, friendship, loss and regret that flows in the Townsend blood for centuries to come.
  • Judy K. (Conroe, TX)

    Good Book to Read and Discuss
    This book, at times, was a struggle to read. It jumps among characters and generations in random order. I found myself referring to the Lineage Chart in front of the book over and over. I did, however, find it thought-provoking. Are our lives influenced through multiple generations by the actions and philosophies of one of our ancestors? This book would be a good choice for a woman’s book club. The questions it raises and the relationships it explores would open the door for many active discussions. It isn’t an easy read, but it is worth the effort.
  • Kristina K. (Glendale, CA)

    A History of All Women
    I’ve read two of Kate Walbert’s previous works, "Where She Went" and "Our Kind," and loved both. Walbert is a master at weaving together separate strands of history and multiple characters’ story lines, often featuring the stories of women, into one poignant narrative written with lyrical prose. "A Short History of Women" is no exception. Here, Walbert weaves together a multi-generational history of the Townsend women from the British suffragette at the turn of the last century to her great, great granddaughter in 2007 New Haven, Connecticut. At first, Walbert’s style of bouncing back and forth between various time periods felt confusing, particularly since several of the characters share similar names (there are three Dorothys). The family tree she includes at the beginning of the book is very helpful. In spite of that, I found myself getting caught up in each character’s story and enjoying the way their histories all overlapped and circled back on each other. And while the novel features a specific history of the Townsend women, I feel that Walbert has written a history of all women who have struggled with powerlessness and the need for a meaningful life, revealing what I believe is an intentional irony in the title that suggests that such a history could ever be considered “short.”
    As a side bar, Walbert’s inclusion of historical references to real women’s history, including the suffragette movement, Florence Nightingale, and Dora Maar, has made me interested in investigating these stories in greater detail.
    I recommend this book highly as a personal read and as a selection for book groups. I will be recommending it to my own book group.
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