A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
A Novel

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NOMINATED FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE

A profoundly moving portrait of the complicated legacies of mothers and daughters, A Short History of Women chronicles five generations of women from the close of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twenty-first. Beginning in 1914 at the deathbed of Dorothy Trevor Townsend, a suffragette who starves herself for the cause, the novel traces the echoes of her choice in the stories of her descendants—a brilliant daughter who tries to escape the burden of her mother’s infamy; a granddaughter who chooses a conventional path, only to find herself disillusioned; a great-granddaughter who wryly articulates the free-floating anxiety of post-9/11 Manhattan. In a kaleidoscope of characters and with a richness of imagery, emotion, and wit, A Short History of Women is a thought-provoking and vividly original narrative that crisscrosses a century—a book for "any woman who has ever struggled to find her own voice; to make sense of being a mother, wife, daughter, and lover" (Associated Press)
 

About Kate Walbert

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Kate Walbert was born in New York City and raised in Georgia, Texas, Japan, and Pennsylvania, among other places. She is the author of A Short History of Women, chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2009 and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Our Kind, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2004; The Gardens of Kyoto, winner of the 2002 Connecticut Book Award in Fiction in 2002; and Where She Went, a collection of linked stories and a New York Times Notable Book. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fiction fellowship, a Connecticut Commission on the Arts fiction fellowship, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. From 1990 to 2005, she lectured in fiction writing at Yale University. She currently lives in New York City with her family.
 
Published May 31, 2009 by Scribner. 257 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Short History of Women

Kirkus Reviews

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When Liz was a child, she slipped into her mother’s purse a verse she’d written that contained the line “I am a hollow bone.” It resonates throughout the lives of all these women: “It’s as if I echo, or rather, feel in myself an absence,” says Dorothy Barrett.

May 01 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

The New York Times

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Kate Walbert’s spare, gorgeously wrought and wrenching novel lives up to its name, hopscotching through time and alternating among the lives of a British suffragist and her descendants.

Jun 14 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

AV Club

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A complicated generational novel addresses the roles of a series of related women as history progresses.

Jun 18 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

AV Club

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Though narrower in scope, Walbert’s rich, difficult novel brings to mind Marilyn French’s feminist classic The Women’s Room in more than title: Self-consciousness tails each generation even as they assert their right to make their own decisions, from Dorothy’s refusal to admit regret or sadness o...

Jun 18 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

USA Today

The title A Short History of Women has dual meaning in Kate Walbert's provocative hands: It's a shorthand history of feminism (the political), as experienced by one multi-generational family of women (the personal).

| Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

Open Letters Monthly

Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women was one of the ten best books of 2009, according to the New York Times.

Jan 31 2013 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

The catalyst for Kate Walbert's new novel, A Short History of Women, occurs surprisingly languidly as British suffragette Dorothy Trevor Townsend slowly wastes away in a hospital during the opening months of World War I.

Jul 20 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

PopMatters

Obviously, esteemed author Kate Walbert’s new novel, A Short History of Women, addresses major, thought-provoking questions of suffrage and its seeming manifestations in the Townsend lineage;

Jun 12 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

As the novel progresses, we come to know, also, her daughter Evelyn Charlotte Townsend, her feisty grand-daughter Dorothy Townsend Barrett, and eventually Dorothy Townsend Barrett’s daughter Liz, and Liz’s niece, “Dora” Louise Barrett-Deel.

Jul 09 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

Bookmarks Magazine

Kate Walbert is a critically acclaimed novelist, playwright, and short story writer.

Jun 15 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

Book Forum

When a group of friends hold a “rap session” to discuss abortions, errant husbands, and the like—it is 1973, and Dorothy Barrett, the suffragette’s granddaughter, is among them—their communion sounds an uneasy note of discord, even as they hold hands and call one another “Sister.” At times, such ...

Jun 23 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

Military.com

"A Short History of Women" (Scribner, 237 pages, $24), Kate Walbert: This book is for any woman who has ever struggled to find her own voice;

Jun 08 2009 | Read Full Review of A Short History of Women: A N...

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