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I'm author of The Snipesville Chronicles. I'm also a published academic historian, but don't hold that against me.Oh, and I'm a Brit. I just happen to live in Georgia.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post Script: Book Review, You Wouldn’t Want To…

David Salariya, creator of the splendid You Wouldn't Want To… series, has written me a lovely email to comment on my review. He notes, "We have about 50 titles in this series in print and have eight new titles in production." Wow. I must admit, I hadn't really done my homework, and didn't realize quite how many books his company has produced… That's very exciting news, as is David's mentioning that a TV series based on the books is in development here in the States.

As to my criticism that few of the books feature girls and women as the "You" of the title, David points out, "We have published 'A Greek Slave' from the point of view of a mother sold into slavery, losing her children and husband, 'on the Mayflower, a female passenger' ' Henry VIII from the point of view of Catherine Parr', 'Medieval Castle' from point of view of female kitchen servant. 'Evacuee', from point of view of girl sent to the country, 'Victorian Servant' from point of view of girl going into service at the age of 13."

Most excitingly (from my standpoint as an historian who deals with the connections between British and American history), David writes, "We have a really good title in production at the moment on the women's suffrage movement, this is being told from the point of view of an Aunt in America telling her niece in England about the suffrage movement and the mother in England telling her (the daughter/niece) what it was like being a suffragette in Britain.

However, he does admit that most of the books focus on men. He explains the relative lack of women characters: "As for woman as main characters, we have had some women, although we have a problem with women in that they do not have the freedom to go to places and move about in the way that men did, however we are aware of the lack of history from a female point of view..."

Sorry, David, but I have to take issue there! Women were not only present throughout the recorded past, but (as your own series shows), actors in it, especially when we focus on social and cultural history. May I suggest, for example, a title that takes as its starting point Laurel Ulrich's splendid Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Midwife's Tale? Martha Ballard, the midwife of the title, certainly got out and about. I can see it now… You Wouldn't Want To Be a Midwife in Early Maine (An Adventure in Obstetrics You'd Rather Not Have) OK, so I am NOT serious about the title, but the concept is definitely doable. Martha did much more than deliver babies, by the way!

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