DNF: Unmentionables by Laurie Lowenstein

Title: Unmentionables 
Author: Laurie Lowenstein
Published: to be published in January 7, 2014
Genre: Fiction: Historical-Fiction
Pages: 307- stopped reading on page 64
Rating: DNF
unmentionablesMarian Elliot Adams, an outspoken advocate for sensible undergarments for women, sweeps onto the Chautauqua stage under a brown canvas tent on a sweltering August night in 1917, and shocks the gathered town of Emporia with her speech: How can women compete with men in the work place and in life if they are confined by their undergarments? The crowd is further appalled when Marian falls off the stage and sprains her ankle, and is forced to remain among them for a week. As the week passes, she throws into turmoil the town’s unspoken rules governing social order, women, and Negroes. The recently widowed newspaper editor Deuce Garland, his lapels glittering with fraternal pins, has always been a community booster, his desire to conform rooted in a legacy of shame–his great-grandfather married a black woman, and the town will never let Deuce forget it, especially not his father-in-law, the owner of the newspaper and Deuce’s boss. Deuce and his father-in-law are already at odds, since the old man refuses to allow Deuce’s stepdaughter, Helen, to go to Chicago to fight for women’s suffrage.

But Marian’s arrival shatters Deuce’s notions of what is acceptable, versus what is right, and Deuce falls madly in love with the tall activist from New York. During Marian’s stay in Emporia, Marian pushes Deuce to become a greater, braver, and more dynamic man than he ever imagined was possible. He takes a stand against his father-in-law by helping Helen escape to Chicago; and he publishes an article exposing the county’s oldest farm family as the source of a recent typhoid outbreak, risking his livelihood and reputation. Marian’s journey takes her to the frozen mud of France’s Picardy region, just beyond the lines, to help destitute villagers as the Great War rages on. Helen, in Chicago, is hired as a streetcar conductor surrounded by bitter men who resent her taking a man’s job. Meanwhile, Deuce struggles to make a living and find his place in Emporia’s wider community after losing the newspaper.

Marian is a powerful catalyst that forces nineteenth-century Emporia into the twentieth century; but while she agitates for enlightenment and justice, she has little time to consider her own motives and her extreme loneliness. Marian, in the end, must decide if she has the courage to face small-town life, and be known, or continue to be a stranger always passing through (from Goodreads).

Thoughts: Emporia in the summer of 1917 is a quiet, rural town with much exciting or particularly unique taking place within its boarders, that is, until Marian Elliot Adams gives a speech in a tent was part of a Chautauqua tour in which she argues that if women are to become true members of society they must escape the binding confines of their undergarments that they are forced to wear and live in. However, as she leaves the stage she trips and severely hurts her ankle; forced to put her lecture tour on hold, Marian gets to know, and change, the residents of Emporia for the better.
     I got this book through LibraryThing’s early review program. Unmentionables is the first book to be published through Akashic Books’ newest imprint, Kaylie Jones Books. Unmentionables has been getting some good feedback and praise. However, I did not find anything to like about this book. The plot was intriguing, but, unfortunately, it was ruined by Lowenstein’s writing. I’ve seen a couple of reviews for this book and they seem to be mostly positive but I just didn’t see it that way. In my opinion this book wasn’t ready to be published. It needed either a strong editing or to be rewritten entirely. The first scene, Marian’s lecture, was used to introduce the rest of the characters that would play a part in the book but it was done very awkwardly. None of the characters felt like real people, and there were large, strange chunks were Lowenstein would tell us the entire character’s backstory, their motivations and desires– this was very frustrating; don’t tell me, show me! The writing was not good enough to make up for the lack of real characters without any personality, a problem that was compounded by the fact that the book would skip around from one underdeveloped and underestablished character to the next. Overall, this seemed like a first attempt at writing that should either have been locked away in a drawer or returned to when the author had garnered more experience. The 64 pages I did read I read in one sitting, after which I put the book done and didn’t look back.
     This, however, is only my opinion and I’ve seen some reviews from people who really enjoyed it. I thought about offering this books as a giveaway in the change that the receiver would have had more luck with the book then I did, but I just don’t feel comfortable giving away a book to one of my followers when I was so dissatisfied with it that I didn’t even finish it. I think maybe I’ll donate it to the library instead.
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About hillarypat

I'm a recent college graduate and this is my blog where I talk about whatever happens to be on my mind- mostly books!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to DNF: Unmentionables by Laurie Lowenstein

  1. Pingback: Year in Review:2013 | ahorseandacarrot

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