Monday, November 7, 2016

The Renegade Queen - Eva Flynn

Summary: Two Renegades So Controversial, They Were Erased From History Discarded by society, she led a social revolution. Disgusted by war, he sought a new world.

She was the first women to run for President, campaigning before women could vote.
He was the Hero of Vicksburg, disillusioned with the government after witnessing the devastating carnage of the Civil War.

Their social revolution attracted the unwanted who were left out of the new wealth: the freed slaves, the new immigrants, and women.

Who were they?

This is the true story of Victoria Woodhull and the love of her life, James Blood.

Adored by the poor, hated by the powerful, forced into hiding during their lifetimes and erased from history after death, the legend of their love lives on.

It’s 1869 and Victoria has a choice to make. She can stay in an abusive marriage and continue to work as a psychic, or she can take the offer of support from handsome Civil War general James Blood and set about to turn society upside down. Victoria chooses revolution.

But revolutions are expensive, and Victoria needs money. James introduces Victoria to one of the wealthiest man in America--Commodore Vanderbilt. Along with her loose and scandalous sister, Tennessee, Victoria manipulates Vanderbilt and together they conspire to crash the stock market”--and profit from it. Victoria then parlays her fortune into the first female-owned brokerage firm.

When her idol Susan B. Anthony publishes scandalous rumors about Victoria’s past, Victoria enters into a fierce rivalry with Susan to control the women’s movement. James supports Victoria's efforts despite his deep fears that she may lose more than the battle. She might lose part of herself.

Victoria starts her own newspaper, testifies to Congress, and even announces her candidacy for President. But when Victoria adopts James's radical ideas and free love beliefs, she ignites new, bruising, battles with Susan B. Anthony and the powerful Reverend Henry Beecher. These skirmishes turn into an all-out war, with Victoria facing prejudice, prosecution, and imprisonment. Ultimately, Victoria and James face the hardest choice of all: the choice between their country and their love. (Summary and pic from

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: No matter what you think of tomorrow’s upcoming election (and believe me, I’m thinking a lot) we can all agree this is a historic election. The two most unpopular candidates ever? Check! A woman running in a major political party? Check! However, before we delve too deeply into what those other (read: political) blogs talk about, let’s talk about what’s important here. Books. Forgettabout the impending doom of tomorrow! Forgettabout your “I voted” sticker! Forgettabout long lines at the polls and results going late into the night! Don’t worry about your election day snacks! (You know you wanna have Election Day snacks.)

I’m sure you know that Hillary is not the first woman candidate to run for president, right? Right? She may be a historic candidate and all, but she is certainly not the first woman to run or even to be nominated to run. Many women have run for president, some more colorful than others. I don’t know if you’re a podcast listener, but I totally am and one that I really enjoy listening to is “Radio Diaries.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with this fun and interesting podcast, but a few episodes back they had a series called “Contenders” in which they discussed interesting presidential candidates. Episode 50 was all about women candidates. You should go give it a listen if you’re into podcasts.

In the spirit of tomorrow’s pending election, then, today’s book review discusses the largely forgotten (and purposely buried) first woman to run for president, Victoria Woodhull.

I don’t know how much you’ve read about the women’s right to vote movement; I haven’t read much. It was a wild time, people. This book made me aware of things I hadn’t realized before. For instance, the women’s right to vote and the male African American’s right to vote were going on at the same time. Some people that were for the African American’s right to vote were not okay with the women’s right to vote, and would be willing to exchange one for another. That being said, people like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe (and her family, which I was unaware of) were all involved at this time. Also, the women’s rights women were not necessarily a cohesive group. They were feisty, they were opinionated, and they often didn’t support each other. I learned quite a bit about Susan B. Anthony, and not all of it is flattering. Victoria Woodhull herself was quite the colorful character. She comes from a very tumultuous background, wrought with abuse and drama and weirdness all around. I don’t want to give too much away here. She lead quite a colorful life, though, and her strength and resilience is commendable, as is that of her sister, Tennessee, who also plays a large role in the story.

As far as the book itself goes, it is historical fiction, and some of it is made up, although a lot of it is based on fact and Flynn has obviously done a lot of research. It’s not literary genius as far as the writing goes, but it it is interesting and fast-paced. It lacks some finesse in the transitions from section to section and chapter to chapter, but that doesn’t make it confusing. I always knew what was going on.

Overall, I thought this little slice of history was really interesting. I have vaguely heard of Victoria Woodhull in my myriad of poli sci classes, but I really learned a lot from this novel. It is a timely read given all that is going on in our political climate today.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

For the sensitive reader: This book has language and quite a few sex scenes, some romantic and some incestuous or rape. I would rate it PG-13.

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