The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber

the-rebellion-of-miss-lucy-ann-lobdell“The riveting true story of Lucy Lobdell, who, in 1855, left her home and family, cut her hair, changed clothes, and went off to live her life as a man. By the time it was over, she was notorious.

At a time when women did not commonly travel unescorted, carry a rifle, sit down in bars, or have romantic liaisons with other women, Lucy Lobdell boldly set forth to earn men’s wages. Lucy Lobdell did all of these things in a personal quest to work and be paid, to wear what she wanted, and love whomever she cared to. But to gain those freedoms she had to endure public scorn and wrestle with a sexual identity whose vocabulary had yet to be invented. In this riveting historical novel, William Klaber captures the life of a brave woman who saw well beyond her era.

This is the fictionalized account of Lucy’s foray into the world of men and her inward journey to a new sexual identity. It is her promised memoir as hear and recorded a century later by William Klaber, an upstream neighbor. Meticulously researched and told with compassion and respect, this is historical fiction at its best.” – Goodreads

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell is a fictional novel. Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, however, was a very real woman. Allow me to explain. Author William Klaber, a part-time journalist, took artistic license to tell the true story of Miss Lobdell, who in 1855 left her family and child behind, cut her hair and donned men’s clothing, and struck out to live life as a man – as Joseph Israel Lobdell, to be exact. What followed was a journey of self-discovery, discrimination, pioneering, successes and failures, and the development of an entirely new sexual identity for Lucy/Joseph.

The tale Klaber weaves is gleaned from actual letters, newspapers, and other historical documents passed on to him from a local historian in upstate New York. He obviously performed meticulous research and worked hard to stay true to the Lucy/Joseph he met that way. Says Klaber,

“It has taken a long time for her voice to ring true in my head. Someone else might go into the forest and hear a different voice, but this is Lucy’s story as I have heard her tell it.”

Indeed, with this novel, Klaber has given us a rare gift. So little written history is found regarding women both great and small (this brings to mind a short story collection I am currently reading, Almost Famous Women – Joseph Lobdell could well have been included in its pages). Furthermore, the respect – and yes, even love – Klaber treats his subject with comes through as one reads each page leaving readers with a reverence for Lobdell all their own.

In an age where marriage and gender equity have made enormous progress, and the rights of transgender individuals have some protections (although not nearly enough), The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell gives us an enlightening view of what life was like in earlier days for those who first bravely broke the mold and blazed a trail for future generations. Highly recommended.

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber: Read it today!

4 stars

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia

Library Love, Junior Edition: March 6, 2015

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Library Love is a recurring post in which I share the weekly bounty from my public libraries.

 

 

 

The Boy received a plethora of books as Christmas gifts in December. How many of those would you say that he’s read by now? I’ll tell you: Zero. Zip. Nada. Can you believe this? I listened to his protests of love for nonfiction and made most of the selections nonfiction books – oh, he showed so much excitement at the time, but not one bit of interest now. What’s up with that? Thus, he has been reading strictly fiction so far this year. Hmph. Go figure. Not that I’m complaining, per se, because as long as he’s reading, I’m happy. What made me even happier this week is that he specifically requested that I select some books for him – normally he moans and groans when I do this (although he always winds up happy in the end). I had a lot of fun choosing his reading for the next couple of weeks; I had just as much fun choosing my own!

The Boy’s Haul

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Pathologically Literate’s Haul

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What are you reading this week? Share in the comments!

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

land-of-love-and-drowning“A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.” – Goodreads

The year is 1917 and the Virgin Islands have  just been transferred from Danish control to become a part of America. The Bradshaw family, along with the rest of the inhabitants of the Islands, are swept up in the excitement and change, but they have no idea of just how much change is coming their way. Captain Bradshaw, who has spent his life on the sea, is soon claimed by that same sea when his ship breaches a coral reef. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two young sisters and their estranged half-brother, each of whom possesses an unusual beauty, as well as a touch of magic that will factor importantly in their lives.

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique possesses the kind of storytelling that slowly weaves a spell around you until you are fully entranced and committed to this tale. Combining fantasy and fiction with historical events, Yanique carries readers on a wave of magic and reality. Brought into play are such momentous events as WWII and the Civil Rights Movement (both in the U.S. and the U.S. V.I.).This powerful family saga also manages to explore the rich history of the Caribbean islands and the people who live and love there.

Land of Love and Drowning is a powerful and absorbing novel that brings to readers the question of whether we can escape the events destiny has planned for us, or if we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors before us. Yanique’s writing is imbued with a magic all its own as she masterfully pulls us inside the world of the Bradshaws and their home in the lush and magical Virgin Islands. For those who appreciate highly literary fiction, this is definitely the read for you.

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique: Read it today!

3.5 stars

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia

 

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Aquarium by David Vann

aquariumLike Melville, Faulkner, and McCarthy, Vann is already one of the great ones of American literature.”—ABC(Spain)

“Vann’s prose is as pure as a gulp of water from an Alaskan stream.”—Financial Times

David Vann’s dazzling debut Legend of a Suicide was reviewed in over a 150 major global publications, won 11 prizes worldwide, was on 40 “best books of the year” lists, and established its author as a literary master. Since then, Vann has delivered an exceptional body of work, receiving, among others, best foreign novel in France and Spain (France’s Prix Medicis Etranger, Spain’s Premi Llibreter), a California Book Award, and the mid-career St. Francis College Literary Prize. Aquarium, his implosive new book and first to be published by Grove, will take Vann to a wider audience than ever before.

Twelve year old Caitlin lives alone with her mother—a docker at the local container port—in subsidized housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamored of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence.

In crystalline, chiseled yet graceful prose, Aquarium takes us into the heart of a brave young girl whose longing for love and capacity for forgiveness transforms the damaged people around her. Relentless and heartbreaking, primal and redemptive, Aquarium is a transporting story from one of the best American writers of our time.” – Goodreads

In the 1990’s, twelve-year-old Caitlin and her mother, Sheri, are living in a tiny Seattle apartment. Sheri works long hours as a manual laborer and because of this, the two thrive on routine. They wake early, Caitlin always arriving at school long before the other students. After school, because they can’t afford sports or after-school activities, Caitlin frequents the local aquarium for a few hours until Sheri is able to pick her up after work. This isn’t a problem for Caitlin, who loves the marine life and in fact yearns to become an ichthyologist as an adult. Eventually, Caitlin is befriended by an elderly man who also enjoys the fish and the two develop a friendship. When the man expresses his desire to meet Caitlin’s mother, she is more than happy to tell Sheri about her fish-loving friend – and unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will reveal long-held family secrets that will forever change Caitlin, Sheri, and the relationship between the two of them.

Aquarium by David Vann is a simple but beautifully crafted coming-of-age tale of family, forgiveness, and self-discovery. Vann’s powerful and emotionally-charged writing is sure to touch readers at a personal level. The raw emotion and anger of Sheri is palpable as we move further through the tale, as is Caitlin’s naivety and hope. There is such a sweetness to the innocence of Caitlin’s first experience with love. While I loved Caitlin, I adored the elderly gentleman; his quiet stoicism and determination. I don’t want to reveal any more about this novel than I have already, but suffice it to say that he stole my heart without even having to try.

I read Aquarium on my Kindle Paperwhite, however, I’m told that the print novel is absolutely beautiful. The blurry black-and-white photos that my eReader displayed are apparently gorgeous, full-color gems in print. For a sneak peek at what they look like, check out this review. I have read another book of David Vann’s, Goat Mountain, and the two novels are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s almost as though Aquarium is an apology for the stark familial destruction of Goat Mountain… It certainly touched me in a far different manner than the previous novel had. Aquarium has easily hit my Top 5 of 2015 so far. Don’t miss the chance to add it to yours.

Aquarium by David Vann: available at a bookseller near you on March 3, 2013!

4 stars

Source: Grove Atlantic {via NetGalley}

 

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Library Love: February 24, 2015

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 Library Love is a recurring post in which I share my weekly bounty from my public libraries.

 

 

Y’all, it’s been a while since I’ve shared my library booty, so I’m here to show you the treasures I’ve found recently. So many good reads! The Boy and I have been spending some extra time at our local branch of the library lately, doing some of our schoolwork there for a change of scenery.  He sure is a hard little worker, I have to give him credit, but I don’t know how well it’s working out because I keep getting distracted by all of the books! Lord knows I have enough of those already… Let’s take a look:

Do not ask me what I was thinking when I checked out so many novels; I already have a plethora of ARCs waiting to be read for the month of March and it’s going to be a tight fit getting everything read in time. On a positive note, four of the above novels will count toward my pledge to We Need Diverse Books – and I wasn’t even consciously trying! Go, me!

What are you reading right now? Have you given any thought to reading books by more diverse authors?

 

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