So, what did Mamah see in him? I think he was a man who could understand the fight women were going through in the early 1900s, trying to get the right to vote, equal pay and credit for the work they did. He was more evolved in that way, plus he talked about his feelings and respected her intelligent thoughts about the world. I can definitely see how, to a woman who felt she was in a loveless marriage to a nice, but simple man, this would sweep her off her feet. But sweep her so far as to abandon her children and the rest of her family? That seems crazy to me.
In the midst of her time with Wright in Europe, Mamah met a Swedish feminist, Ellen Key, who seemed to echo her views about life: conventional marriage may not be for every woman, work and fair wages are important for women, perhaps more important than children, and women have so much further to come. A lot of this interested me because I never realized how many women more than 100 years ago were fighting for these rights, and I never realized how many women were in fact very outspoken about these things. Good for them! In the book, this conversation between Mamah and Ellen Key stood out to me, as I think these words could still be considered in today's world:
Men have always been trained to have the courage to dare. Women, on the other hand, are stuck being the keepers of memories and traditions. We've become the great conservators. Oh, I suppose we're suppler, as a result, because we've learned to see many sides. But what a price has been paid. It has kept us from greatness! And most women are happy just to repeat opinions and judgments they've heard, as if they thought of the ideas themselves. It's dangerous! Women need to understand evolutionary science, philosophy, art. They need to expand their knowledge and stop assassinating each others' characters.I also liked this quote that came a few graphs later:
Attack the personal character of the thinker, and you will kill her ideas.All very true, still to this day. So, overall, it was a good book. It was entertaining, for the feminist viewpoints and because much was set in the Midwest. I learned more about that time in history, and a lot more about the motivations of Wright, an architect whose buildings can be found on streets around here. I followed my coworkers advice and didn't Wikipedia any of the characters, and I was pretty shocked by the ending. Tragic. I did however look him up afterward, and it was just as interesting to read how Wright lived out the rest of his life as well.