A Secret Sisterhood
Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. Coauthors and real-life friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney prove this wrong, thanks to their discovery of a wealth of surprising collaborations: the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic friendship of the seemingly aloof George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, most often portrayed as bitter foes, but who, in fact, enjoyed a complex friendship fired by an underlying erotic charge. Through letters and diaries that have never been published before, A Secret Sisterhood resurrects these forgotten stories of female friendships. They were sometimes scandalous and volatile, sometimes supportive and inspiring, but always—until now—tantalizingly consigned to the shadows.

A Secret Sisterhood Details

TitleA Secret Sisterhood
Author
ReleaseOct 17th, 2017
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139780544883734
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Womens, Feminism

A Secret Sisterhood Review

  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    I live for books such as these, books discussing how, why, and where excellent writers began and "A Secret Sisterhood" is one of the best I've come across. As you can see from the subtitle Midorikawa and Sweeney focus on Austen, Bronte, Eliot, and, Woolf. Eliot and Woolf have friends who were also well known writers Respectively Harriet Beecher Stowe and Katherine Mansfield. Because of the time periods involved and given that much, or all in Stowe and Eliot's case, these friendships often relied I live for books such as these, books discussing how, why, and where excellent writers began and "A Secret Sisterhood" is one of the best I've come across. As you can see from the subtitle Midorikawa and Sweeney focus on Austen, Bronte, Eliot, and, Woolf. Eliot and Woolf have friends who were also well known writers Respectively Harriet Beecher Stowe and Katherine Mansfield. Because of the time periods involved and given that much, or all in Stowe and Eliot's case, these friendships often relied on the mails to encourage one another. Unfortunately a lot of their correspondence was purposely destroyed by the writers or their families.Midorikawa and Sweeney were able to turn up some snippets of new original documents that shed light on these relationships. You can feel how desperate and also joyful they were to find a like minded person with similar problems of honing out time and place to write as well as someone to help hash out technical problems or to simply share the joys and sorrows of writing. Women are so often inaccurately portrayed as catty and/or competitive that it's nice to read about the devotion of these pairs. It's also difficult to have a sense of how isolated some of their lives were. This book was a joy to read.Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reading copy.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Writers Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney were teaching in Japan when they met. They immediately connected and soon were regularly meeting and critiquing each other's writing.As they collaborated on writing A Secret Sisterhood, they found happiness in spite of the stress. Their unfounded feared was that their 'bond between equals' would be threatened if one achieved success before the other. When Margaret Atwood offered to write the forward for the book, it was proof that women writers do Writers Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney were teaching in Japan when they met. They immediately connected and soon were regularly meeting and critiquing each other's writing.As they collaborated on writing A Secret Sisterhood, they found happiness in spite of the stress. Their unfounded feared was that their 'bond between equals' would be threatened if one achieved success before the other. When Margaret Atwood offered to write the forward for the book, it was proof that women writers do forge friendships of encouragement and support, in spite of historic stereotypes.Jane Austen was mythologized into a happy spinster who hid her writing and relied only on her sister for support. Suppressed was her friendship with her rich brother's impoverished governess Anne Sharp, an amateur playwright. Charlotte Bronte's friendship with boarding school friend Mary Taylor had its ups and downs, but it was Taylor who inspired Charlotte to travel abroad to continue her education. The intrepid Taylor became a feminist writer.George Eliot, living 'in sin' with a married man, corresponded with clergyman's daughter and literary sensation Harriet Beecher Stowe. Over years, their closeness was stressed by life events, yet their regard for each other as artists prevailed. Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield are remembered as rivals, their mutual regard and friendship overshadowed.A Secret Sisterhood was an interesting book about the "rare sense of communion" between literary friends. One does not need to be well informed about the writers discussed for enough biographical information is included to understand the friendships in context of the authors' personal and professional lives.I enjoyed the book and learned something about writers I am quite familiar with and a great deal about those I knew little.I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Comprising brief dual-biographies of 8 women, the premise of this book is that female literary friendships have been written out, submerged or forgotten from the lives of four women authors: Austen, Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Woolf. Reading the book, I'm not especially convinced by this argument: the relationship between Bronte and Mary Taylor is well covered in the standard biographies, as is the sometimes conflicted relationship between Woolf and Katherine Mansfield and, indeed, other Bloomsb Comprising brief dual-biographies of 8 women, the premise of this book is that female literary friendships have been written out, submerged or forgotten from the lives of four women authors: Austen, Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Woolf. Reading the book, I'm not especially convinced by this argument: the relationship between Bronte and Mary Taylor is well covered in the standard biographies, as is the sometimes conflicted relationship between Woolf and Katherine Mansfield and, indeed, other Bloomsbury women. While I didn't know about the connections between Eliot and Harriet Beecher-Stowe, or the friendship between Austen and Anne Sharp, the governess of her niece, Fanny, I'm not sure that knowing that they were friends changes anything. Of course women have friends, whether they're writers or not and, while it's true that there is some continued mythologising about masculine literary friendships (Byron and Shelley, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Fitzgerald and Hemingway), it tends to be because of the literary connections being made in their writing, not just the fact that they are friends. The only possible literary cross-fertilisation here is that between Woolf and Mansfield, already part of literary history via the interconnections of the Bloomsbury Group.Having said that, this is a lively and well-researched read that offers up compact 'friendship' biographies in just 3 chapters each. I, however, expected something more than the mere fact of these friendships to be the subject of the book: a more probing interrogation of the impact of these friendships and their effect on the writings of these women. To be fair, this isn't claiming to be an academic book or to be making intellectual interventions in the histories of gender and writing. So an interesting read but also a bit of a wasted opportunity that might have done something more radical with the material. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Genna
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Full review to come closer to the publication date.A delightful look at female literary friendships that have been too-long overlooked. Featuring Jane Austen and governess playwright Anne Sharp; the pioneering feminist author Mary Taylor and her influence on the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic correspondence of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the oft misunderstood relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfie I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Full review to come closer to the publication date.A delightful look at female literary friendships that have been too-long overlooked. Featuring Jane Austen and governess playwright Anne Sharp; the pioneering feminist author Mary Taylor and her influence on the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic correspondence of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the oft misunderstood relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    “A Secret Sisterhood” examines the relationships that early female writers had with friends. Most that is written about Austen and Charlotte Bronte shows them working in isolation (aside from the Bronte siblings); in fact they both had active friendships with other women both through correspondence and face to face, where they talked about their work. Eliot and Woolf have less of a reputation for loneliness, but still aren’t considered to be extroverts. But they, too, had their special friends w “A Secret Sisterhood” examines the relationships that early female writers had with friends. Most that is written about Austen and Charlotte Bronte shows them working in isolation (aside from the Bronte siblings); in fact they both had active friendships with other women both through correspondence and face to face, where they talked about their work. Eliot and Woolf have less of a reputation for loneliness, but still aren’t considered to be extroverts. But they, too, had their special friends with whom they could talk shop. Jane Austen was friends with her brother’s nanny (which was not looked upon well), who was a playwright when not wrangling kids; author Mary Taylor helped Charlotte Bronte; the outcast George Eliot (outcast for cohabiting with a married man for years) had a long correspondence with Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf had a relationship both friendly and very competitive with author Katherine Mansfield. These friendships helped sustain the writers in their solitary work (even with people around them, a writer works alone) and provided sounding boards for their new writings. The authors, themselves friends since the beginnings of their writing careers and who first found success at almost the same time as each other, have done meticulous research and found previously unread documents on or by their subjects. It’s an interesting read, so see how these friendships affected their writing. Much has been made of the friendships of certain male authors- Byron and Shelley, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins- and now at last we have the feminine side of that coin – and a foreword by Margaret Atwood. Four and a half stars.
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  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so much information, hidden gems and beautiful descrip A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so much information, hidden gems and beautiful descriptions of female solidarity from long, long ago. This book is a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Very little is known about the friendships that these women had with other women writers, as during their lifetimes their achievements and literary accomplishments were very much downplayed, with male writers receiving much of the recognition. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have created a book that highlights these achievements, the strength of women, and how women seek and give strength to other women in the writing profession. This is very much in evidence today, so it is so very refreshing to find that our female literally heroines were doing the very same.We learn about these much loved writers' private lives and their close friendships, that were often seen as scandalous, from the information that has been painstakingly gathered from lost letters and diaries. In doing so, what happened in the past is made incredibly relevant for today's audience. These women writers had such a close support system. We learn that feminism is not such a new concept, as these women were feminists well before the term was even used.This is such an uplifting book and one that I enjoyed immensely. If you love to read novels by these four literary heroines, and are interested in literary history, then this book will really appeal to you. In fact, for anyone interested in literature, or for those who just fancy an absorbing non-fiction read, then you really will enjoy this wonderful treat of a book.With thanks to the publisher who sent me a hardback copy for review purposes.
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  • Linda Hill
    January 1, 1970
    I have to confess that it has taken me some time to read A Secret Sisterhood as there is so much information to absorb I needed time to reflect and consider what I’d read. The style of the book is very accessible and balances quotation and research with original writing perfectly. At times this is more like reading a narrative than an academic study and it just goes to show what wonderful writers both authors are. Their own friendship shines through the pages.The quality of research that has gon I have to confess that it has taken me some time to read A Secret Sisterhood as there is so much information to absorb I needed time to reflect and consider what I’d read. The style of the book is very accessible and balances quotation and research with original writing perfectly. At times this is more like reading a narrative than an academic study and it just goes to show what wonderful writers both authors are. Their own friendship shines through the pages.The quality of research that has gone in to A Secret Sisterhood is impeccable. Whilst several facts are already well documented, Midorikawa and Sweeney present them with a fresh eye. They also include new material and occasionally some conjecture so that the reader is left to form their own opinion too. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and the details of quotidian life really bring the text alive. I also really appreciated the understanding of feminism that underpins much of the book and the debunking of so many stereotyped views of these women. They come to life between the pages of A Secret Sisterhood so that they are no longer the conventional creatures we have known for so long.A Secret Sisterhood is a must read for any fan of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf, but equally for anyone interested in history, society and literature. The bibliography and footnotes make for fascinating reading and again, it took me ages to read the book because I found myself following up some of these independently. A passing reference to Roger Fry had me looking up his paintings, for example. I think A Secret Sisterhood is a book to be savoured and returned to frequently over the years.https://lindasbookbag.com/2017/07/18/...
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  • Gwen
    January 1, 1970
    Having seen it this as a hardback in the shops, I immediately snapped it up when I saw an audiobook version. As with all non-hipster, there were downsides to 'reading' this as an audiobook - I missed being able to check references (once a History student, always a History student), particularly at points when I found myself raising an eyebrow at the large amounts of speculation.And this is perhaps my biggest frustration with the book - particularly in the chapters about Austen and Brontë - there Having seen it this as a hardback in the shops, I immediately snapped it up when I saw an audiobook version. As with all non-hipster, there were downsides to 'reading' this as an audiobook - I missed being able to check references (once a History student, always a History student), particularly at points when I found myself raising an eyebrow at the large amounts of speculation.And this is perhaps my biggest frustration with the book - particularly in the chapters about Austen and Brontë - there are a lot of gaps in surviving correspondence, which inevitably means that in order to keep up the narrative the authors add in embellishments. There are suppositions that frankly don't need to be there, and which are a little irritating at points.However, as an introduction to biography, and the authors, it's a nice easy read. The overwhelming theme seemed to me - authors and their friendships aside - how difficult and frustrating life as a middle class unmarried woman was. All of our authors have this in common for the majority of their biographies, and for several, teetering on the brink of poverty made their abilities to write particularly difficult. Having never read anything by any of those profiled except Austen, I really enjoyed the social history element covered (I can't comment on the accuracy of the assertions about the friendships being hidden, although I would perhaps query whether George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe were indeed friends, given that they seemed to have very little in common and were decidedly at odds on a number of their values. Ditto Virginia Woolf and Katharine Mansfield, who definitely fit into the 'with friends like these, who needs enemies?' camp...) I will certainly be looking to pick up books by some of the authors featured, and reading their works with a greater insight into the context in which they were written.
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  • BookBully
    January 1, 1970
    Who could resist this title/subtitle? Not I for one. A SECRET SISTERHOOD: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf delivers, for the most part. Co-authors and good friends, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, obviously researched their subjects well digging deep into the lives of these four authors.In some cases a friendship was ignored by early biographers, as was the case with Jane Austen and Anne Sharp, a struggling playwright who was pr Who could resist this title/subtitle? Not I for one. A SECRET SISTERHOOD: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf delivers, for the most part. Co-authors and good friends, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, obviously researched their subjects well digging deep into the lives of these four authors.In some cases a friendship was ignored by early biographers, as was the case with Jane Austen and Anne Sharp, a struggling playwright who was primarily known as a governess. Charlotte Brontë's longtime friend, Mary Taylor, had a greater influence over the author than was previously acknowledged. The friendships between George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe's and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield often toggled between encouragement and jealousy. The authors start slowly - Jane Austen's section is the weakest of the four - but gather speed and confidence as the book goes on. I was particularly interested in the Eliot/Stowe friendship which was based entirely on letters. Also, watching the interplay between Woolf and Mansfield was fascinating. Recommended especially for fans of these four authors and readers who enjoyed A CHANCE MEETING by Rachel Cohen.
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  • Anne Goodwin
    January 1, 1970
    When you imagine the lives of our literary foremothers, do you think of them scribbling away in isolation or inspired and supported by like-minded friends? Writer friends Emily and Emma have delved into the archives to revitalise the hidden friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. For each of these literary greats they have uncovered a secret sister, a friendship valued, despite the inevitable envy and rivalry, for the mutual understanding and the willingnes When you imagine the lives of our literary foremothers, do you think of them scribbling away in isolation or inspired and supported by like-minded friends? Writer friends Emily and Emma have delved into the archives to revitalise the hidden friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. For each of these literary greats they have uncovered a secret sister, a friendship valued, despite the inevitable envy and rivalry, for the mutual understanding and the willingness of each to speak her mind.Full review coming soon to http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdo...
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  • Laura Pessino
    January 1, 1970
    The secret sisterhood was a joy to read from cover to cover. The authors present the importance of female friendship to some of our most loved writers, in an uplifting and revealing book. It's obviously a subject that is close to the authors hearts; as their passion for these literary ladies shines through every sentence. It is a lovely, easy, read, which will be enjoyed by all.
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  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    Recommendation on Jen Campbell's BookTube Channel - 6/8/2017
  • Caroline Gilbertson
    January 1, 1970
    Sisterhood the deepest bond?These authors bond seems as deep and profound as that of sisters. Sometimes it has taken work, tolerance and forgiveness. The unconditional love between sisters makes these qualities easier to achieve with siblings however these authors have managed to replicate this level of support in pursuit of their literary goals. This would seem to demonstrate the lengths and passion needed to follow their literary dreams. Reading this book has inspired me to try again with Mrs Sisterhood the deepest bond?These authors bond seems as deep and profound as that of sisters. Sometimes it has taken work, tolerance and forgiveness. The unconditional love between sisters makes these qualities easier to achieve with siblings however these authors have managed to replicate this level of support in pursuit of their literary goals. This would seem to demonstrate the lengths and passion needed to follow their literary dreams. Reading this book has inspired me to try again with Mrs Dalloway and read Middlemarch again with a greater depth of interest and understanding. An interesting read that has added depth to my understanding of these authors work.
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  • GONZA
    January 1, 1970
    If you like to read female literature authors you would probably love this volume where friendships between some of the most famous women authors are described. I loved to get to know many details I had no idea and I liked also the epilogue where some more friendships were depicted.Se vi piace leggere letteratura scritta da donne, é possibile che questo volume vi piaccia parecchio, perché vi sono descritte amicizie tra alcune tra le piú famose autrici di tutti i tempi. Inoltre anche nell'epilogo If you like to read female literature authors you would probably love this volume where friendships between some of the most famous women authors are described. I loved to get to know many details I had no idea and I liked also the epilogue where some more friendships were depicted.Se vi piace leggere letteratura scritta da donne, é possibile che questo volume vi piaccia parecchio, perché vi sono descritte amicizie tra alcune tra le piú famose autrici di tutti i tempi. Inoltre anche nell'epilogo ne vengono raccontate altre. Un vero piacere!THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    “... misleading myths of isolation have long attached themselves to women who write: acottage-dwelling spinster; an impassioned roamer of the moors; a fallen woman, shunned; a melancholic genius. Over the years, a conspiracy of silence has obscured the friendships of female authors, past and present. But now it is time to break the silence and celebrate this literary sisterhood - a glimmering web of interwoven threads that still has the power to unsettle, to challenge, to inspire.”‘A Secret Sist “... misleading myths of isolation have long attached themselves to women who write: acottage-dwelling spinster; an impassioned roamer of the moors; a fallen woman, shunned; a melancholic genius. Over the years, a conspiracy of silence has obscured the friendships of female authors, past and present. But now it is time to break the silence and celebrate this literary sisterhood - a glimmering web of interwoven threads that still has the power to unsettle, to challenge, to inspire.”‘A Secret Sisterhood’ is an interesting book packed with loads of information, new insights and wonderful descriptions of friendship from times long gone. Reading more like a biography, it allows the reader to look at female literary friendships within the context of their writing. Being a big Austen and Bronte fan, I was eager to see what new snippets would be brought to life. Thinking of these famous female authors (and understanding that writing is very much a solitary pursuit), one often sees them in isolation. This book reveals how much they were actively involved with others, sharing at times, revealing insights into their thinking. Either meeting in person or through their correspondence, one can learn a great deal more about the individual. You do not have to be well versed on these writers, as a satisfactory amount of detail is provided by these authors. What they succeed in doing is portraying another aspect to these famous lives and how these friendships contributed to the writer’s lives. I learnt more about those I knew well eg. Jane Austen and was introduced to those I was unfamiliar with eg. George Eliot. This is an extremely well researched book, impressively so. Dedicating three chapters to each of the writer’s, the authors shine a light on the importance of friendship to these famous women, through diaries, letters and other documents. The authors really do a fabulous job of inviting you into a ‘secret sisterhood’ and sharing details I knew little of.If you are in any way intrigued by any of these literary heroines, or you are interested in literary history, then I highly recommend you take some time to discover this ‘Secret Sisterhood’.“In piecing together the lost stories of these four trailblazing pairs, we have found alliances that were sometimes illicit, scandalous, and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical, or inspiring but, until now, tantalizingly consigned to the shadows.”This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release
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  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    A Secret Sisterhood is a look at the friendships that some of the best known female writers had with other women who wrote and how these affected their lives. It sets out to show the importance of the support, rivalry, and inspiration that characterises famous male literary friendships to these authors, in friendships that have been often overlooked by biographers and critics. The writers, real-life friends, emphasise how these friendships are a major part of literary history and suggest by the A Secret Sisterhood is a look at the friendships that some of the best known female writers had with other women who wrote and how these affected their lives. It sets out to show the importance of the support, rivalry, and inspiration that characterises famous male literary friendships to these authors, in friendships that have been often overlooked by biographers and critics. The writers, real-life friends, emphasise how these friendships are a major part of literary history and suggest by the end that more female literary friendships should be appreciated and studied, to compare with famous male ones like Byron and Shelley or Fitzgerald and Hemingway.The book is very much literary history, focused upon the writers’ lives and mentioning a great deal of other writers and literary trends on the way. It is split into four sections, covering each of the writers named in the subtitle and their relationship with a particular other female writer in their life. Reading it does not require a huge familiarity with each writer, making it accessible to those with an interest in writers, but who don’t necessarily know a huge deal about the lives of the individuals covered already. There is quoting from letters and diaries to give detail of these friendships, but no literary analysis of the writers. Instead, it is very much biography, opening the way for people to look at these and other female literary friendships in the context of their writing and specific elements of their texts.A Secret Sisterhood is an enjoyable book about lesser known literary history and an important one for showing that female writers do not have to either be reclusive and isolated, or tightly bound to a man without female support.
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  • Anna Tuell
    January 1, 1970
    "Once people become famous their images tend to congeal. They become engravings of themselves, and we think of them as always having been grown-up and respectable. A Secret Sisterhood reminds us that this is not the case. Sweeney and Midorikawa take us back to formative years, retrace forgotten footsteps, and tap into emotional undercurrents in these writers that we had not suspected. These four women, however iconic they have now become, were not two-dimensional icons, nor were they plaster ang "Once people become famous their images tend to congeal. They become engravings of themselves, and we think of them as always having been grown-up and respectable. A Secret Sisterhood reminds us that this is not the case. Sweeney and Midorikawa take us back to formative years, retrace forgotten footsteps, and tap into emotional undercurrents in these writers that we had not suspected. These four women, however iconic they have now become, were not two-dimensional icons, nor were they plaster angels: they were real people, with all the neediness, anxiety, ardor, and complexity that come with the territory." - Excerpted from Margaret Atwood's IntroductionI can't say it better than Margaret Atwood, and why should I try?! I immensely enjoyed reading about the four friendships that this book explores. I definitely have a certain congealed image of all of these women, and I loved the opportunity to dismantle my own expectations. All of the friendships detailed have been either expunged completely from the historical imagination or cast as antagonistic (any strife or competition between female authors = enemies). It's definitely time that we acknowledge the complicated, unruly reality of these famous women (and so many more), and investigate how their previously ignored female friendships impacted their work and their legacies. I especially loved that this was researched and written by a pair of female writers who are willing to sit with the uncomfortable parts of their own competitive and supportive relationship. "Misleading myths of isolation have long attached themselves to women who write: a cottage-dwelling spinster; an impassioned roamer of the moors; a fallen woman, shunned; a melancholic genius. Over the years, a conspiracy of silence has obscured the friendships of female authors, past and present. But now it is time to break the silence and celebrate this literary sisterhood — a glimmering web of interwoven threads that still has the power to unsettle, to challenge, to inspire." (Praise hands emoji)Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advance copy of this book!
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    A glimpse into the lives of our favourite female authors I must admit I have often wondered how the likes of Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot - women with such talent, could stand to live under the control of their male relations. All wrote in a time where women were the 'weaker sex', and were shielded from the realities of life by their fathers, brothers and uncles. They couldn't inherit, couldn't set up their own home and usually were beholden for any small amounts of money they were all A glimpse into the lives of our favourite female authors I must admit I have often wondered how the likes of Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot - women with such talent, could stand to live under the control of their male relations. All wrote in a time where women were the 'weaker sex', and were shielded from the realities of life by their fathers, brothers and uncles. They couldn't inherit, couldn't set up their own home and usually were beholden for any small amounts of money they were allowed; their female brains being too delicate to deal with financial or business matters! This book answers that question – they, like strong women today, had a support system through their relationships with female friends and fellow writers. The amount of research which has gone into this book is more than impressive, with the authors not only drawing on diaries and letters of the day, but also uncovering new documents never before seen. The reader is invited to share the secrets of their lives and we certainly don't expect what is revealed. The result is a warm and surprising depiction of close and, in some cases, unlikely friendships between these extraordinary women. This book is a joy to read and evidence that feminism is not something new; they didn't burn their bras, but they did establish themselves as probably the best-loved female writers of any century. Pashtpaws Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    A glimpse into the lives of our favourite female authorsI must admit I have often wondered how the likes of Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot - women with such talent, could stand to live under the control of their male relations. All wrote in a time where women were the 'weaker sex', and were shielded from the realities of life by their fathers, brothers and uncles. They couldn't inherit, couldn't set up their own home and usually were beholden for any small amounts of money they were allo A glimpse into the lives of our favourite female authorsI must admit I have often wondered how the likes of Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot - women with such talent, could stand to live under the control of their male relations. All wrote in a time where women were the 'weaker sex', and were shielded from the realities of life by their fathers, brothers and uncles. They couldn't inherit, couldn't set up their own home and usually were beholden for any small amounts of money they were allowed; their female brains being too delicate to deal with financial or business matters!This book answers that question – they, like strong women today, had a support system through their relationships with female friends and fellow writers.The amount of research which has gone into this book is more than impressive, with the authors not only drawing on diaries and letters of the day, but also uncovering new documents never before seen. The reader is invited to share the secrets of their lives and we certainly don't expect what is revealed.The result is a warm and surprising depiction of close and, in some cases, unlikely friendships between these extraordinary women.This book is a joy to read and evidence that feminism is not something new; they didn't burn their bras, but they did establish themselves as probably the best-loved female writers of any century. PashtpawsBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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  • Darcysmom
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.I love, love, love the premise of A Secret Sisterhood! As Emma Claire Sweeny and Emily Midorikawa point out, the friendships and friendly rivalries between female authors have been largely ignored by academics and popular history. The friendships the authors chose to research cover a great span of literature and there is sure to be at least one pairing that will appeal to just about every reader: Jane Austen I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.I love, love, love the premise of A Secret Sisterhood! As Emma Claire Sweeny and Emily Midorikawa point out, the friendships and friendly rivalries between female authors have been largely ignored by academics and popular history. The friendships the authors chose to research cover a great span of literature and there is sure to be at least one pairing that will appeal to just about every reader: Jane Austen and Anne Sharp; Charlotte Bronte and Mary Taylor; George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.I expected to be most enthralled by the chapters about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. I was pleasantly surprised to find the chapter I loved the most explored the friendship between George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about Katherine Mansfield and Virgina Woolf.I loved the epilogue: getting a glimpse of the authors' real life friendship was gratifying.I appreciate the scholarship and research that went into A Secret Sisterhood. I also liked that the partial biography was thorough enough to allow for significant further exploration.
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  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    A Secret SisterhoodThe Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolfby Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire SweeneyHoughton Mifflin HarcourtBiographies & MemoirsPub Date 17 Oct 2017I am reviewing a copy of A Secret Sisterhood Through Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt and Netgalley:Male literary friendships often become stuff of legends, whereas female authors are often perceived as solitary people, but this book sets out to prove that wrong.Jane Austen had a cl A Secret SisterhoodThe Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolfby Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire SweeneyHoughton Mifflin HarcourtBiographies & MemoirsPub Date 17 Oct 2017I am reviewing a copy of A Secret Sisterhood Through Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt and Netgalley:Male literary friendships often become stuff of legends, whereas female authors are often perceived as solitary people, but this book sets out to prove that wrong.Jane Austen had a close friendship between playwright and female servant Anne Sharp. Mary Taylor’s friendship and works had a great influence over Charolette Bronte’s, shaping her into the author who even centuries after her death has books who have stood the test of time.Despite George Eliot living in London and Harriet Beecher Stowe in the United States they built a friendship that helped to shape their careers. Katherine Mansfield and Virgina Woolf are often considered bitter foes, both fighting to build a career for themselves, but letters and diaries offer proof that they infact had a complex friendship.I give A Secret Sisterhood five out of five stars!Happy Reading
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  • Ali
    January 1, 1970
    Beginning with their blog Something Rhymed, Emily and Emma have minutely researched the correspondence and diaries of these four writers, as well as bringing to light new evidence, to provide a fascinating exploration of writerly relationships. In their own friendship they have supported and celebrated each other’s literary careers since the first meeting in their early twenties when they admitted to each other that they were writers. They have a fine eye for period detail, although for any read Beginning with their blog Something Rhymed, Emily and Emma have minutely researched the correspondence and diaries of these four writers, as well as bringing to light new evidence, to provide a fascinating exploration of writerly relationships. In their own friendship they have supported and celebrated each other’s literary careers since the first meeting in their early twenties when they admitted to each other that they were writers. They have a fine eye for period detail, although for any reader already familiar with Victorian and early 20th century novels, it may be unnecessary and indeed occasionally strays into over-writing. But, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood, known for her ability to hold the mirror up to societal norms, A Secret Sisterhood is a much-needed piece of research as well as very readable and accessible. The research is so well integrated that it’s only when you look at the extensive notes and bibliography that you see the detective work that has gone into the book. A Secret Sisterhood also benefits from a beautifully designed and eye-catching cover which would make it a fine present for a book-loving friend.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    I greatly enjoyed this book. It really fits into most of my wheelhouse: female authors, history, and the story behind the story we think we know. The beginning of the book is based on less primary source material, which is largely due to Jane Austen's family destroying much of it. As time moves more toward the modern day, the richness of the relationships between these female authors is more and more apparent. I would absolutely recommend this book to any budding author, or anyone interested in I greatly enjoyed this book. It really fits into most of my wheelhouse: female authors, history, and the story behind the story we think we know. The beginning of the book is based on less primary source material, which is largely due to Jane Austen's family destroying much of it. As time moves more toward the modern day, the richness of the relationships between these female authors is more and more apparent. I would absolutely recommend this book to any budding author, or anyone interested in the lives of any of these remarkable women.
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  • Sue Hampton
    January 1, 1970
    I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this book explores the lives of some of my favourite novelists, and it does so in a way that's scholarly but also as gripping as a good novel should be. The style borrows from the elegance of the writers featured, and there are details that make the scenes live and show the depth of the research underpinning the narrative. The decision of the two authors to share their own current literary friendship, rather than keeping an anonymous distance, felt surprisin I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this book explores the lives of some of my favourite novelists, and it does so in a way that's scholarly but also as gripping as a good novel should be. The style borrows from the elegance of the writers featured, and there are details that make the scenes live and show the depth of the research underpinning the narrative. The decision of the two authors to share their own current literary friendship, rather than keeping an anonymous distance, felt surprising but rewarding.I rarely give five stars but I thought about it. Bravo.
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  • Winny Fryer
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating and entertaining read on the little studied subject of female literary friendships. The starting point is the longstanding friendship of the authors and perhaps this is what led to the revelatory nature of the information discovered. Surely there could be nothing new to discover or letter unread diary unread concerning Jane Austen? Well much to ours and the authors surprise they unearthed some real gems and put to bed some well worn (mysogenistic) chestnuts regarding female authors A fascinating and entertaining read on the little studied subject of female literary friendships. The starting point is the longstanding friendship of the authors and perhaps this is what led to the revelatory nature of the information discovered. Surely there could be nothing new to discover or letter unread diary unread concerning Jane Austen? Well much to ours and the authors surprise they unearthed some real gems and put to bed some well worn (mysogenistic) chestnuts regarding female authors, their place in society and how they regarded each other. Highly recommended and a joy to read.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the premise of this book more than the book itself. I think it would have been a lot better if the sources were cited within the actual writing instead of in the notes section in the back. Unless you flip back and forth it's impossible to know what came from a primary source and what is the two authors' own voices.
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  • kit
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars
  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    4.5
  • Emilia
    January 1, 1970
    worth a read for any litterature enthusiast!
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