I recently read a book I much anticipated, The Renegade Queen by Eva Flynn, which was about the life of the forgotten American feminist Victoria Woodhull. Even though her voice was strong it has been quieted to the nation, even in history books. It was a little surprising that Woodhull was born in Licking County, Ohio, which is the state in which I reside. I’ve read so much about famous people from Ohio in the 1800s lately, it was interesting to add her to the list.
I vaguely remember hearing of Victoria Woodhull in my university history degree pursuits, yet then again in my research when I was looking into a project on the women’s suffrage movement. However, to most people, the author of the book is correct, she’s been highly swept under the rug for the legendary Susan B. Anthony and group to take the limelight as the suffragettes of history. You’ll find out why within the pages of the book.
As this novel represents, Woodhull did quite a bit of TRUE campaigning for women’s rights without a care for social etiquette, and not only the right to vote, but the right to marry, divorce, and have children without government interference. Even Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton did not publicly stand for these rights for fear of being chastised. She became a leader for the women’s suffrage movement and took on anyone and anything that stood in her way.
First of all, I want to state that this book gave huge insight into Woodhull’s beliefs, motivations, and her determined ways to make women equal in all regards. Flynn showcased how her views and pursuits were similar to the movement, but yet, also how they differed and the way she believed they needed to go about getting the progress they needed. Secondly, Flynn made Woodhull endearing in an empowering way, truly allowing her to shine and progress in our vision.
Not only in this matter, but in all things, Flynn did a tremendous amount of research and it carries though the book within her representation of Woodhull. What I didn’t know, or remember, is that Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872, with Frederick Douglass as her running mate. However, Flynn doesn’t just focus on that part of her life. She takes readers to the very beginning of Woodhull’s life, as a girl, showing us her trauma of a childhood of abuse and neglect, her father using her clairvoyant talents to fool people out of money, and not even allowing them to wear shoes. When her first husband came to take her away after seeing her abuse, he has to buy her from her father, which left a lasting impression on Woodhull especially when that husband turned out to be an alcoholic, a womanizer, and also abusive. It’s important for readers to be drawn into her story, to see where she came from, so that we can better understand her beliefs and what drove her to fight with such an extreme fervor. She was proven to be a woman of survival in this novel, and in that right, Flynn does her a great justice in history.
This isn’t only a women’s rights book though, or a story of the first woman to run for President, it is the story of how Woodhull fought for social norms such as the capitalist elite and in favor of the working class. I believe her motivations to point out that an all male political system made up of those with money was corrupt is a point that we are still espousing on to this day. Her voice caused stirs, as anything worth doing should, and many of her methods and suggestions for reform have been implemented. Her drive to care not only for women, but for the poor and the working class, has left a lasting legacy even if most people don’t realize her efforts.
As a business woman she and her sister became the first female stockbrokers on Wall Street in 1870 and dubbed “queens of finance.” With their money made, they were some of the first women to found a newspaper as well (now that’s cool too for me, because as a journalist, I’ve been apt to study anything about the history of journalism-I was so intrigued by this) in order to support her candidacy, but it ended up being a place for them to showcase their opinions and alternate views, as well as ideals for labor reform.
I could go on repetitively about Woodhull and not even touch the amount of learning that is encased inside Flynn’s book. In fact, a good portion of it pertains to her second husband and their work together, and how their voices put them and their love in harms way. The ending of their story and this book is a bit heart wrenching, however, I don’t feel it would be a spoiler to say that Woodhull is off to England at the end and that I’m much looking forward to Flynn’s second book where she’ll write about this next part of Woodhull’s life.
Eloquently written with depth of character, intrigue, and emotion, The Renegade Queen is a book that will entrance you into knowing the woman called Victoria Woodhull. Eva Flynn has done extreme justice for this extraordinary woman in history and will inspire a new nation of women when they read it. Highly recommended for readers and to stock library and school shelves everywhere.
Watch for my INTERVIEW with the author tomorrow!
The Renegade Queen (Rebellious Times Book 1)
by Eva Flynn
Publication Date: December 15, 2015
eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
About the Eva Flynn, Author
Eva was raised on bedtime stories of feminists (the tooth fairy even brought Susan B. Anthony dollars) and daytime lessons on American politics. On one fateful day years ago when knowledge was found on bound paper, she discovered two paragraphs about Victoria Woodhull in the WXYZ volume of the World Book Encyclopedia. When she realized that neither of her brilliant parents (a conservative political science professor and a liberal feminist) had never heard of her, it was the beginning of a lifelong fascination not only with Victoria Woodhull but in discovering the stories that the history books do not tell. Brave battles fought, new worlds sought, loves lost all in the name of some future glory have led her to spend years researching the period of Reconstruction. Her first book, The Renegade Queen , explores the forgotten trailblazer Victoria Woodhull and her rivalry with Susan B. Anthony.
Eva was born and raised in Tennessee, earned her B.A. in Political Science from DePauw in Greencastle, Indiana and still lives in Indiana. Eva enjoys reading, classic movies, and travelling. She loves to hear from readers, you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Goodreads and Twitter.
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