Special Feature and Q&A: Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead by Deborah Beatriz Blum

Though I have a Master’s in American History, I rarely read biographies. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve spent so much of my academic career reading history books and researching topics….but when I sit down to read I like reading fiction….preferably with history.

Now that said, I do on occasion read biographies or nonfiction if the subject sounds interesting etc. I was so sad that I couldn’t fit this book into my review schedule this summer because it sounds like one of those books that would be right up my alley! So instead I decided to do a special feature complete with a Q & A from the author so be sure to keep reading!

The startling coming-of-age story of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead whose radical ideas challenged the social and sexual norms of her time.

The story begins in 1923, when twenty-two year old Margaret Mead is living in New York City, engaged to her childhood sweetheart and on the verge of graduating from college. Seemingly a conventional young lady, she marries, but shocks friends when she decides to keep her maiden name.

After starting graduate school at Columbia University, she does the unthinkable: she first enters into a forbidden relationship with a female colleague, then gets caught up in an all-consuming and secret affair with a brilliant older man. As her sexual awakening continues, she discovers it is possible to be in love with more than one person at the same time.

While Margaret’s personal explorations are just beginning, her interest in distant cultures propels her into the new field of anthropology. Ignoring the constraints put on women, she travels alone to a tiny speck of land in the South Pacific called Samoa to study the sexual behavior of adolescent girls. Returning home on an ocean liner nine months later, a chance encounter changes the course of her life forever.

Now, drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Deborah Beatriz Blum reconstructs these five transformative years of Margaret’s life, before she became famous, revealing the story that Margaret Mead hid from the world – during her lifetime and beyond (summary from Goodreads).

The book was researched through letters with Mead’s professional connections, lovers, diaries and memoirs to explore the college and early years of Mead in the 1920s. It is intensely personal to documentary filmmaker and acclaimed author Deborah Blum because of her chance meeting with Mead when she was a young woman.

Q and A with author Deborah Beatriz Blum



Review: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts in a most gruesome way…..someone took a hatchet to their skulls. And the prime suspect, their daughter Lizzie Borden.

The story quickly became the ‘story of the century’. There was no concrete evidence, but rather a lot of circumstantial evidence against Lizzie…..but enough that she was arrested for the crimes.

The trial that took place was front page news and was labeled ‘sensational’ by the press. But what was even more sensational was that Lizzie was found not guilty.

This book follows the murder, trial, and aftermath of one of histories most shocking and grizzly crimes that remains unsolved. Sarah Miller examines many aspects of the case and utilizes newspaper articles and trial transcriptions to present the ‘facts’ and basically let’s the reader draw their own conclusions about the case.


Review: Home Fires: The Story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War by Julie Summers

I am a sucker for anything about WWI or WWII and women! This book totally caught my eye from the title alone and I knew instantly that I had to read it!

Julie Summers has written a lot on the subject of women and WWII especially (I have my eye on one of her other books, Fashion on the Ration, as well!) and her book Jambusters (AKA Home Fires) was the inspiration for the new PBS series Home Fires.

This book focuses on what was happening at home while the boys were away a war. In towns and villages across Great Britain, ordinary women were playing a vital role in their country s war effort. Summers focuses her research on the Women’s Institute which was an organization the ran canteens, knitted garments, and collected herbs to replace medicines. They advised the government on issues such as evacuation housing, children’s health, and reconstructed.

Not every woman was cut out for war and battlefield nursing so what did they do? Well they made jam!


Review: Wilkie Collins: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd

Biographies and non fiction are always such an interesting genre for me. It must be such a challenge trying to research a person or subject so famous or well known and still be able to bring something ‘new’ to the table. Not to mention write a book that doesn’t read like a boring history timeline with a bunch of dates and milestones in a person’s life.

So I am always intrigued when non fiction and/or biographies come across my nightstand for review, if the person or subject interests me I usually give it a go. Wilkie Collins has been a very interesting literary figure for me since I read Drood by Dan Simmons a few years ago. While I didn’t really like the book itself that well…..the character Wilkie Collins appealed to me so much that I read his novel The Woman in White a short time later.

I have yet to read his magnum opus, The Moonstone, but I have it and am waiting for the perfect stormy fall night to start it. Something about Collins says ‘dark and stormy night’ to me. I don’t know much about Collins’s life or literary career besides these two popular books…..Collins often get’s obscured by Charles Dickens as they are both writers of the same period. So when this biography came across my nightstand for review, I did not hesitate to agree….the English Literature major in me was crying out to learn more about this often skipped over author!


Announcement: Winner BLACK DIAMONDS by Catherine Bailey

And the winner of BLACK DIAMONDS by Catherine Bailey is…..

Anne (commented on blog post)

The winner will be notified via email.

Thank you to everyone who entered and a huge thank you to the publisher for making this giveaway possible!

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