Very disappointed in this book. It dragged through the first 2/3 and picked up at the very end. This story could have been told better in a short story format.
This is an excellent book that relates the tragic, true story of a nationally famous family of brothers and sisters about 150 years ago, the Beechers, which included Henry, a charismatic abolitionist and preacher, Harriet Beecher Stow, famous for writing the abolistionist classic novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and Isabella, the baby of the family, who is a minor champion for the basic rights for women, including the right to vote.
They got along well, for the most part, until Henry is accused publicly of adultry.
Then, the family is torn apart at the seams. Harriet most of the family, headed by Harriet, insist that Henry is innocent (although, in my opinion, his extreme actions after the accusation were hardly the works of an innocent man). Henry and the family insist that the family must rally around Henry and present a united front to the rest of the world.
All except Isabella, who writes to her brother explaining that, if he confessed and told the truth of what happened, people would be far more sympathetic to him. Besides, in a family who has always valued honesty, anything else would be hypocrasy.
It is amazing what people will do and how many people they are willing to hurt to cover up a wrong.
This story reminds me of modern scandles involving nationally-influential men. But, would the family's actions and the consequences from their actions have been any different if they were not constantly under the celebrity spotlight? Only, in my opinion, to a lesser degree.
Overall, the plot was complex and well researched and well told with good imagry and descriptions that drew you into the tale and the conflicts of the various characters (mainly Isabella and Harriett). The pace was moderate and did not drag. The characters were deeply human, strong but frail. Also, like many great tragedic tales, the story offers a chance for forgiveness and redemption.
I admit that I approached this book with fairly low expectations. I had previously read "The Glory Cloak" by the same author. I had such high expectaions for that book because I liked the historical characters and the the era included in the book. However, although overall, the book, the story, and the characters were good in "The Glory Cloak", unfortunately, in my opinion, there were too problems with the book to make it great.
But, this "Harriet and Isabella" was great in many ways. I would recommend it for those who like hisorical human drama.
Harriet and Isabella are estranged sisters that belong to the famous Beecher family. Harriet is the Harriet Beecher Stowe that wrote Uncle Toms Cabin and Isabella is an ardent suffragist activist. These 2 strong women look back over their lives as their father Harry Beecher lies in his bed near death. This historical fiction shows how the country was struggling with the issues of slavery and womens rights.
I thought the writing style to be a little confusing at times because the story lapsed back in time to different episodes in the past of Harriet and Isabella and sometimes I wasnt sure of the point of view or the time period of the narrative. I was interested in the characters and how the family strife was going to be resolved, but the story was too fractured and hard to read.