- Paperback: 320 pages
- Published: 1/7/14
- IBSN: 9781617751943
- e-IBSN: 9781617752056
- Genre: Fiction
A powerful debut historical novel to launch a new imprint, Kaylie Jones Books, curated by acclaimed author Kaylie Jones.
“Exceptionally readable and highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
Included in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel‘s “96 Books For Your Summer Reading List” under “14 Books We’ve Already Liked”
Unmentionables has been selected by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association as a Midwest Connections pick for January 2014!
“Engaging first work from a writer of evident ability.”
“Marian Elliot Adams’ . . . tale is contagiously enthusiastic.”
“Unmentionables is a sweeping and memorable story of struggle and suffrage, love and redemption . . . Loewenstein has skillfuly woven a story and a cast of characters that will remain in the memory long after the book’s last page has been turned.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Readers will be fascinated by this timeless glimpse into a slice of American history on the brink of significant change, whose memorable characters are both vulnerable and engaging. I loved this book!”
—Boswell Book Company (staff pick)
“Unmentionables starts small and expands to touch Chicago and war-torn France as Laurie Loewenstein weaves multiple points of view together to create a narrative of social change and the stubbornness of the human heart.”
—Black Heart Magazine
“A historical, feminist romance in the positive senses of all three terms: a realistic evocation of small-town America circa 1917, including its racial tensions; a tale about standing up for the equitable treatment of women; and a story about two lonely people who overcome obstacles, including their own character defects, to find love together.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Unmentionables is a love story and a journey of self-discovery.”
—Historical Novel Society
“Loewenstein isn’t afraid to let her characters develop a little more deeply than you’d expect.”
“This is a period that begs for great sweeping novels and I was especially happy to lose myself in the lives of these interesting people . . . This is how we live, after all, with so much big and small going on around us.”
“Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables is the best work of historical fiction I have read in the past few years.”
“Characters open the story in opposition to each other and sometimes themselves, and the forces they encounter produce alterations along the way, and new characters result. This is the stuff of excellent fiction, and Unmentionables is excellent.”
“I felt enriched by the book. Definitely worth a look!”
—Not the New York Times Book Review
“Laurie Loewenstein has written a simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting insight into our world as it was a century ago.”
—Carnegie-Stout Public Library
“Laurie Loewenstein brings the reader into the past, to Chautauqua assemblies, World War I France, and Midwestern small-town life. But like all good historical fiction, Unmentionables uses the past as a way to illuminate large, pertinent questions—of race and gender, of love and death, of action and consequence. Meticulously researched and exquisitely written, Unmentionables is a memorable debut.”
—Ann Hood, author of The Obituary Writer
“Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables, a story of prejudice, struggle, and redemption, is compulsively readable and immensely seductive. Buffeted by the immense societal changes surrounding World War I, Loewenstein’s characters—deftly drawn and as familiar to the reader as friends from childhood—fight for love, equality, and ultimately justice in a world awash in the volatile cusp of change. At once intimate and wide-ranging, Unmentionables illuminates both the triumph and cost of sacrifice, along with its hard-won rewards.”
—Robin Oliveira, author of My Name Is Mary Sutter
“I loved this beautiful book, set amid the cornfields and treelined streets of a quiet Illinois farm town during the First World War. Loewenstein’s ability to create a moment in history is authoritative and accurate. I was lost in that world, believed every word of it, and loved and wept with the delicately drawn characters. Love, fear, shame, regret, hope, and independence intertwine as the story moves from farm country to war-torn France and big-city Chicago, replete with anarchists and artists, suffragettes, freethinkers, and the working poor. This is a perfect book club pick, dealing with real history, real issues that are still relevant today, and real and unforgettable characters.”
—Taylor M. Polites, author of The Rebel Wife
“Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables transports the reader to a time not that long ago—when women were not allowed to vote and racial prejudice was commonplace—when so much was different, but human nature was so much the same. Treating us to a captivating narrative that illuminates as it entertains, Loewenstein reminds us that it is the courage and integrity of individual people that changes the world.”
—Beverly Donofrio, author of Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace
Read “Blood Suckers” by Laurie Loewenstein, part of Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series.
The debut novel in Akashic’s Kaylie Jones Books imprint.
Click here to read a feature story about Laurie Loewenstein in The Morning Call; here to read a guest post Laurie did for Necessary Fiction; and here to read an interview with Laurie Loewenstein at Christoph Paul’s blog; here to read an interview with Laurie at Loren Kleinman’s blog; here to read a feature on Laurie at Sidney Daily News; here to read a feature on Laurie at The McDonough County Voice; and here to listen to an interview with Laurie on Tri States Public Radio.
Click here to read Laurie Loewenstein’s guest post on Write All The Words! about International Women’s Week.
Listen to an interview with Laurie Loewenstein at ArtScene with Erika Funke (NPR/WVIA Radio).
Marian Elliot Adams, an outspoken advocate for sensible undergarments for women, sweeps onto the Chautauqua stage under a brown canvas tent on a sweltering August night in 1917, and shocks the gathered town of Emporia with her speech: How can women compete with men in the work place and in life if they are confined by their undergarments? The crowd is further appalled when Marian falls off the stage and sprains her ankle, and is forced to remain among them for a week. As the week passes, she throws into turmoil the town’s unspoken rules governing social order, women, and Negroes. The recently widowed newspaper editor Deuce Garland, his lapels glittering with fraternal pins, has always been a community booster, his desire to conform rooted in a legacy of shame–his great-grandfather married a black woman, and the town will never let Deuce forget it, especially not his father-in-law, the owner of the newspaper and Deuce’s boss. Deuce and his father-in-law are already at odds, since the old man refuses to allow Deuce’s stepdaughter, Helen, to go to Chicago to fight for women’s suffrage.
But Marian’s arrival shatters Deuce’s notions of what is acceptable, versus what is right, and Deuce falls madly in love with the tall activist from New York. During Marian’s stay in Emporia, Marian pushes Deuce to become a greater, braver, and more dynamic man than he ever imagined was possible. He takes a stand against his father-in-law by helping Helen escape to Chicago; and he publishes an article exposing the county’s oldest farm family as the source of a recent typhoid outbreak, risking his livelihood and reputation. Marian’s journey takes her to the frozen mud of France’s Picardy region, just beyond the lines, to help destitute villagers as the Great War rages on. Helen, in Chicago, is hired as a streetcar conductor surrounded by bitter men who resent her taking a man’s job. Meanwhile, Deuce struggles to make a living and find his place in Emporia’s wider community after losing the newspaper.
Marian is a powerful catalyst that forces nineteenth-century Emporia into the twentieth century; but while she agitates for enlightenment and justice, she has little time to consider her own motives and her extreme loneliness. Marian, in the end, must decide if she has the courage to face small-town life, and be known, or continue to be a stranger always passing through.
Kaylie Jones is the award-winning author of five novels and a memoir. She teaches writing at two MFA programs and lives in New York City.