Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Scribbling Women

Title: Scribbling Women
Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Publisher: Tundra Books
Published Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-88776-952-8
Pages: 195

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

About the Book:
Whatever else you may discover within these pages, you will not meet up with a single "shrinking violet" among the eleven featured women. Long dead or still living, each one defied something that would have held others back: societal convention, adverity, ignorance, oppression, poverty, the law, the elements, the odds. All of them disregarded the expectation of hte day and led exceptional, if not long and happy lives. Perhaps more remarkable than their experiences is the fact that-whether adrift on Arctic ice,m in the company of cannibals, behind prison bars, stoelen from home, or caught in deadly cross fire-they recorded what they did, how they felt, and who they were. In doing so, they left vivid snapshots of themselves and their times.
Marthe Jocelyn has painstakingly researched and pieced together the life stories of these amazing women, creating a mosaic that spans a thousand years and all corners of the globe. Although they shared very little in common, one recurring thread links each person to the next; the desire to leave something behind-proff that "I was here, and I made my mark."

About the Author:
Toronto born Marthe Jocelyn is the award winning author and illustrator of over twenty books. Her novel Mable Riley won the inaugural TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Other novels from Tundra Books include Would You, How It Happened in Peach Hill, and Folly. Her nonfiction book, A Home for Foundlings, won wide critical acclaim. In 2009, Marthe Jocelyn received the prestigious Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She lives in Stratford, Ontario. For more information, visit her site.

My review:
In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne criticized what he called "scribbling women." Hawthorne thought it was a fad and was irritated by women that were attempting to become writers. Marthe Jocelyn began this book with those . The book chronicles the life and accomplishments of 11 amazing women. Included in the book are Sei Shonagon, Margaret Catchpole, Mary Hayden Russell, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Isabella Beeton, Mary Kingsley, Nellie Bly, Daisy Ashford, Ada Blackjack, Dang Thuy Tram, and Doris Pilkington Garmara. The book describes each of these women and their lives. They were all just ordinary women that did not take what was dicatated to them to do with their lives or follow tradition. Each of them kept records or diaries of their lives and these "scribbles" are what gives us insight today on a world very different that what we are used to. However, it also gives the hope and ambition to other women to let them know, "You can do it," no matter that that It may be.
Marthe Jocelyn writes with an enjoying voice that tells the stories and makes it lively so that you are immersed in the lives of each of these women. Yet, she also makes you think after each story by encouraging the reader to think about what if this hadn't happened or to think about the possibilities that other women can ensue. If it weren't for these scribbling women and others since their times, the world would not have been the place it is today without their insight.


  1. I loved the fact that so many of these women were unknown to me before reading the book. Women have so often been silent witnesses to history. I'm glad these women bucked tradition and recorded their lives and thoughts.

    webbJM AT verizon DOT net

  2. Yeah, I didn't know any of these women beforehand except for Nellie Bly. I think the one that really hit me the hardest was the entry on Jacobs. A woman who would NOT stay down, despite all odds. Made me really think about what I'm doing with my life.

    Love your header, btw.

    Books + tree=great pic.


  3. I agree with Jodi. These are women that I haven't heard of before. They have fascinating things to say.

  4. Jennifer,
    Thanks for the great comment. You should read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Jacobs. I loved it.

  5. When I was in university, I read The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon. To be honest, it was a long time ago and I can't remember much about it other than I enjoyed it immensely. Women hold up half the world. Why wouldn't they have as much to say as men do? :P (In fact, sometimes maybe we say too much....haha.)

  6. I'm compelled to keep visiting all the stops onn this tour, but the more I read, the more I want to stop travelling and pick up my copy of the book and read.

  7. so true, what makes these women stand out is that their voices would not be denied, in spite of the most brutal, unnerving or intimidating of circumstances.

  8. Reading the book and all the comments, my sense is that it has empowered many women to read more, write more and live more fully.