I wanted to write from earliest childhood but was spooked by an English professor at Vassar who gave me a C+ on my first short story. It took decades before I tried again. When my mother died, I inherited a treasure trove of family papers depicting deep unhappiness among my maternal forebears. I used the material to write Women of Privilege, published in 2013 by Academy Chicago to critical acclaim. Booklist and Library Journal praised it, as did a reviewer who wrote: "If Edith Wharton, J. D. Salinger, and Jeannette Walls collaborated on a story, this would be it." I'm now writing a sequel in which I'm exploring what The Feminine Mystique did to so many educated American women in the second half of the 20th century. It is memoir with a look at how the imagery in our unconscious can lead to escaping the strictures we internalized when young.
Women of Privilege: 100 Years of Love and Loss in a Family of the Hudson River Valley
Carolyn Heilbrun, in Writing a Woman's Life, said there are far too few books about the real lives of women. Women of Privilege helps to fill that gap. It tells the intimate narratives of four generations of women who inhabited Grasmere, a great house in Rhinebeck, New York in the Hudson River Valley. Based on private diaries, letters and journals, it reveals mental illness, alcoholism, a yearning for divorce and questions of sexual identity among these women who were otherwise thought to be happy. The title is purposely ironic.