O My America!: Second Acts in a New World
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Not Enabled. Related video shorts 0 Upload your video. Customer reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase. I have to say that my final response to Sara Wheeler's writing is much like her response to Harriet Martineau's. Wheeler travels the routes of seven nineteenth-century British women into and across the U. At the end we leave her in the little mountain town of Mineral in the shadow of California's Mount Lassen, a volcano last active in So she shares some spirit with one of her "subjects," Isabella Bird, who in Colorado discovered something within herself almost exactly like the discovery John Muir made in California's mountains.
Isabella found "the divine in nature. Wheeler did much solid research before hitting the trail. She shares with readers much new information about her seven visitors and the state of things in mid-nineteenth-century America. For one example, she helps us picture the situation when Cincinnati was among the largest cities in the nation and Fanny Trollope built a pleasure house there.
But Ms Wheeler could well have left some of her baggage at home. Here she is responding to Fanny Trollope, the first of her seven, comparing her to Alexis de Toqueville: "The difference between Toqueville and Fanny Trollope turns on this point.
His was the more flexible mind; he was an intellectual, and in America experience informed his intellect. She was an empiricist, content to base broad judgements on a short spell of personal experience colored by her own shortcomings and prejudice" p. So Trollope's was the lesser mind, I suppose she's telling us, for what reason I cannot imagine. Trollope slogged through swamps, ate disgusting things at mealtimes and spent sleepless nights getting a firsthand look at this new place called The United States, and we're to think less of her because she hadn't the kind of mind Toqueville had?
Once again, I suppose, dancing backwards in high heels isn't enough. I have to admit a bias of my own: I bought the book primarily for Chapter 3, the travels of Harriet Martineau. Harriet was not only an abolitionist and woman's rights advocate, she was also an atheist, technically a Unitarian, daughter and sister of prominent Unitarian men. I thought she was way ahead of her time, and she offended American hosts by coming out against slavery in public while she was here. Wheeler earlier told us that "An ill-favored spinster, Harriet was industrious, progressive and high-minded" p.
Now, in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave, she seems to admire Harriet's spunk: "Harriet left her ear trumpet in her valise, tucked up her gown, tied a hanky over her head 'like the witches in Macbeth' and spent the day scrambling over loose limestone. The guides' candle cast monstrous shadows.
But when it comes to Harriet's mind? She just couldn't stop herself coming out with them, like a sausage machine jammed to ON" p. Taken altogether, "Harriet's work no longer has much significance; she is worth remembering for her achievements in a man's world and for her personal commitment to winning through" p.
Wheeler ranks Martineau as second-rate. So of course I tend to rank Wheeler as second-rate because she couldn't get past Martineau's plainness, her deafness, her eccentricity, her atheism, her being cured of a chronic ailment by mesmerism, her taking up science and other liberal causes.
O My America!: Six Women and Their Second Acts in a New World by Sara Wheeler
Wheeler returns home ready to tackle the second half of her life, but don't look for her out in public leading any charges. A few of the women's stories were interesting, woven into the travels,research by the author. I skipped a couple of the chapters after I started them as they were not too compelling. One person found this helpful. Enjoyed reading the historical accounts of the varied women and their perspectives.
Loved learning about day to day happenings and the workings of the particular time and place. This is a truly terrible book. The author makes endless historical errors, has virtually no feminist perspective on her subjects or herself. It is self contradictory and full of specious psychological speculation. The tone is snarky and sarcastic, and the prose full of meaningless metaphors.
Paragraphs are endless and contain a multitude of barely connected ideas. The six women profiled all deserve better than to be treated as semi-comic, semi-iconic models for the author who seems to have misunderstood every aspect of feminism from its historical origins to its meaning for contemporary women. I generally love to read about women travelers, pioneers, and adventurers whose stories have too long been untold,so I was expecting to enjoy this book greatly.
Sadly the author has managed to make six fascinating and complex women whom she refers to as "my girls " seem banal and --despite multiple historical rants --strangely ahistorical. This book serves neither women nor history nor literature. Format: Kindle Edition.
Each story is sensitively told, with due recognition of some of the cross-cultural difficulties experienced by each of the women as they struggled to adapt themselves to an alien cultures. Some accomplished the task more successfully than others: Trollope always harbored a lingering anti-Americanism; that the people in some way lacked the 'refinement' and awareness of social gradations characteristic of the British.
Yet Wheeler is not just interested in her subjects from a biographical perspective; she sees all of them as examples of the ways in which women of a certain age can discover new lives for themselves during middle-age. This is of particular significance to the author herself as she approaches the age of fifty and her children are coming to the age where they no longer require a mother's constant care. Many thanks. Just select your click then download button, and complete an offer to start downloading the ebook. If there is a survey it only takes 5 minutes, try any survey which works for you.
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O My America!: Six Women and Their Second Acts in a New World
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