Title: The Coming Woman
Author: Karen J. Hicks
2014 – Adult Fiction – Historical Fiction
The Story: History remembers big names from the women’s rights movement, names like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony. The one that isn’t often remembered is Victoria Woodhull. In a time when Wall Street and politics were a man’s games, Woodhull became a prominent broker on Wall Street before announcing her candidacy for President. While women’s groups fought among themselves, Woodhull took action and spoke before Congress, called out hypocrisy in the church, and worked tirelessly for labor reform. Although her dreams of the Presidency were never fulfilled, many of the gains of the women’s rights movements can be attributed to Woodhull’s actions.
The Opening Line: The early spring drizzle on Great Jones Street doesn’t deter newsboys from hawking the April 2, 1870 headlines up and down the thoroughfare between the beer gardens and dance halls of the Bowery and the opulent emporiums of Broadway.
What I Loved: I always really loved my history courses when I was in school. I loved seeing trends of humanity and how they’ve shaped our lives and circumstances today. So it’s always exciting to learn more, especially when you think that you know a lot about the subject, and you find out there’s more to the story. That was this book for me. We all learned about the women’s rights movement, and the suffragists, and how women gained the vote. We didn’t learn about Victoria Woodhull, so this book really opened my eyes to her contributions to the movement.
What I Didn’t Love: For some reason, it was hard for me to stay engaged with this book. Maybe it was stress, or other obligations, or it just wasn’t the book for me. But I struggled to keep reading. That being said, when I could settle down with it and I got into it a bit, it went by quickly and I learned a lot and liked it. But it was hard to put down and pick back up.
Final Thoughts: Woodhull was the first woman to address Congress. The first to open a brokerage firm on Wall Street. The first to run for President. She was a free-love advocate and Spiritualist. She published a weekly newspaper. She was an expatriate. She had powerful friends and powerful enemies. She spent time in the courtroom and in jail. She married multiple times. Regardless of what people thought about her, her actions and lifestyle were revolutionary. She had a hand in many of the rights we enjoy today. I’m glad I read this book because I now know Woodhull’s story. And this book is timely, as many anticipate Hilary Clinton running for the Presidency. So I recommend this book for history buffs, lovers of politics, and feminism advocates.