National Book Award finalist Kate Walbert's A Short History of Women is a profoundly moving portrayal of the complicated legacies of mothers and daughters, chronicling five generations of women from the close of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twenty-first.
The novel opens in England in 1914 at the deathbed of Dorothy Townsend, a suffragette who starves herself for the cause. Her choice echoes in the stories of her descendants interwoven throughout: a brilliant daughter who tries to escape the burden of her mother's infamy by immigrating to America just after World War I to begin a career in science; a niece who chooses a conventional pathmarriage, children, suburban domesticityonly to find herself disillusioned with her husband of fifty years and engaged in heartbreaking and futile antiwar protests; a great-granddaughter who wryly articulates the free-floating anxiety of the times while getting drunk on a children's playdate in post-9/11 Manhattan. In a kaleidoscope of voices and with a richness of imagery, emotion, and wit, Walbert portrays the ways in which successive generations of women have responded to what the Victorians called 'The Woman Question.'
As she did in her critically acclaimed The Gardens of Kyoto and Our Kind, Walbert induces a state in which the past seems to hang effortlessly amid the present (The New York Times). A Short History of Women is her most ambitious novel, a thought-provoking and vividly original narrative that crisscrosses a century to reflect the tides of time and the ways in which the lives of our great-grandmothers resonate in our own.
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"Starred Review. Walbert's look at the 20th century and the Townsend family is perfectly calibrated, intricately structured and gripping from page one." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. With a sharp eye and deft touch, Walbert explores the ways women's priorities and freedoms have evolved even as their yearnings have stayed remarkably constant." - Booklist
"It's gripping, intense, and powerful. Walbert's language is elegant, her images resonant. ... Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections." - Library Journal
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Kate Walbert is the author of the award-winning books Our Kind, The Gardens of Kyoto, Where She Went, and A Short History of Women. Her plays include Year of the Woman, Quiet, She Said and Elsewhere.
Walbert was born in New York City but raised in Georgia, Texas, Japan, and Pennsylvania. After graduating from Choate Rosemary Hall, she attended Northwestern University's School of Communication before earning a Master's degree in English from NYU.
Walbert was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Connecticut Commission on the Arts Fellowship. From 2011-2012, she was a Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at the NY Public Library. Her latest novel is The Sunken Cathedral (2015). She lives in New York City with her ...
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