Brilliant...Jean Strouse has created a fascinating picture of 'woman's place' in a family of genius and throws a searching light on the price a woman sometimes pays when reared in such a hothouse.
Alice James was the sister of William and Henry, the only daughter in a family of brilliant and not a little eccentric men, and representative of the intellectually repressed nineteenth-century woman whose grief finds an outlet in neurotic illness. She kept a withering journal of her life, wrote letters, and left behind a trail needing only modern signposts. She was an integral part of a family firm of scholars and writers. But she could never seize the opportunities that a few other women of her age did. There was no air to breathe in the intoxicating atmosphere where Henry was already writing spellbinding novels and William was professing at Harvard and reinventing psychology and philosophy. Her life, then, is a singular portrait embedded in a family history that dazzled her age and still interests ours.