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Naked Truth: Or Equality, The Forbidden Fruit: A Novel Paperback – Illustrated, 24 February 2020
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"Hayes writes with such care and authenticity, that the reader will likely be unsure where the history ends and the fiction begins." - Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
- Publisher : HTPH PRESS; Illustrated edition (24 February 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 322 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0578229102
- ISBN-13 : 978-0578229102
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.06 x 21.59 cm
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A fascinating read that sheds light on an important part of American and feminist history. The author manages to tell this story in an amazingly rich and deeply textured way. Buckle up because you are in for a rollicking good romp!
The novel contains many names and events we might remember from our history books—President Grant, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Frederick Douglas, etc. Yet, the focus is on two ahead-of-their-times real historical sisters: Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Woodhull. Together, they opened the first female brokerage firm in NYC, ran a progressive newspaper, advocated for women’s voting rights and free love, and Victoria ran for president in 1872 (well before women could vote) with Frederick Douglas as her VP, making them the first female/black presidential ticket. Each sister had a tumultuous love life and several marriages and affairs between them. The novel also does not shy away from some of their shady practices, but one can’t help but cheer for the sisters—or at least be fascinated by them.
The backstories of the sisters’ childhood is heartbreaking, but they transcend a snake-oil conman father and an illiterate religious fanatic mother and abject poverty to become powerful women in their own right.
Hayes excels in her rich prose and crafts a fast-paced, wickedly entertaining book, which is also educational. Filled with descriptive details that put the reader right in the story, and delightful phrasing, this book is an amazing read.
As I was curious to see how much was fact, I did some research, and Carrie Hayes’ own research appears impeccable. Just an excellent book and I am glad I found it.
"Naked Truth" tells the story of sisters Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Woodhull, daughters of a family of con artists, who rose to lead the suffragette and women's rights movement in America after the Civil War. Victoria made a run for president, even though she herself was banned from voting; Tennessee stood for Congress. The story of these two is riveting, masterfully told by Ms. Hayes, and meticulously researched. The wealth of description and the exquisite detail bring to life this age of gilded glitter and grinding misery. The book is historical fiction, but Ms. Hayes stays remarkably close to the historical record. The story itself - the antecedents of the American feminist movement - is an important chapter in American history that deserves retelling. But beyond that, the portrayal of an era where corruption was rife and duplicity was the norm, shows us the roots of America's moral character.
The truth is that I grew up in an era, starting with the Vietnam war and the impeachment of President Nixon, that knew a clear, if halting, march toward a better society; one where civil and human rights were given a fledgling place in our body politic, where government increasingly saw its role as reining in the excesses of the military industrial complex, where the rights of women and people of color were beginning to be respected. In the last four years, we saw that progress crumble like a sand castle in a wave. And "Naked Truth" reminds us that this crumbling is simply a return to our roots.
I'm sorry if this review is so negative. But not about the book. It's a great book. Read it.
Joel Epstein, author of "The Language of the Heart" https://www.amazon.com/Language-Heart-musical-fantastical-journey-ebook/dp/B07S6BRVYM
Here is a quote that I found both insightful and exemplary of the writing. Tennessee says, “I do not consider divorce evil by any means. It is just as much a refuge for women married to brutal men as Canada was to the slaves of brutal masters.” This quote demonstrates the rich nature of the writing because it advances both the characterization and the placement of the character within the colorful tapestry of the times portrayed.
I’m writing this review after my second reading of this novel, but it surely won’t be my last. I highly recommend.