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Margret Howth: A Story Of To-day
by Rebecca Harding Davis
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From Publishers Weekly
This first novel by the 19th-century author of Life in the Iron Mills was serialized in the Atlantic Monthly in 1861-62; set in that period in an Indiana mill town, it shows the "life-long battle for bread and butter,"p. 20 the suffering that characterized the lives of the working poor in the era of industrialization. In her afterword, Yellin ( Women and Sisters: The Anti-Slavery Feminists in Nineteenth Century American Culture ) places this work of fiction in the context of Davis's dealings with her editor at the Atlantic Monthly, explaining that she rewrote the work to satisfy his call for a "sunnier literature." Without Yellin's background information, it would be hard to make sense of Davis's story and its incongruous ending wherein the title character sacrifices her chance for conventional love to help others, only to find ultimate fulfillment back in that same romantic relationship. As it stands, this novel has all the stock elements of a genre romance. An interesting case of the undue influence of an editor's views, important for feminist literary scholars and libraries, but not for the general reader.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Recuperating from spiritual decay is the motif of this narrative. Rebecca Davis has created personas that realize their misplaced ambitions in life and work to bring about a change for the better. In a side plot, she has also touched on the poverty and discrimination in a land where equality of men is preached and apparently every one has equal rights. Insightful!"
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