Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton
by Sarah Bates
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (February 15, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Tour Dates: Oct/Nov, 2016
Available in: Print & ebook, 420 Pages
From award winning author, Sarah Bates, Johnstown, New York, 1823: It is a time when a wife’s dowry, even children, automatically becomes her husband’s property. Slavery is an economic advantage entrenched in America but rumblings of abolition abound.
For Elizabeth Cady to confront this culture is unheard of, yet that is exactly what she does. Before she can become a leader of the women’s rights movement and prominent abolitionist, she faces challenges fraught with disappointment. Her father admires her intellect but says a woman cannot aspire to the goals of men. Her sister’s husband becomes her champion–but secretly wants more. Religious fervor threatens to consume her.
As she faces depression and despair, she records these struggles and other dark confidences in diaries. When she learns the journals might fall into the wrong hands and discredit her, she panics and rips out pages of entries that might destroy her hard-fought reputation. Relieved, she believes they are lost to history forever.
But are they? Travel with Elizabeth into American history and discover a young woman truly ahead of her time.
We all know Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a fearless abolitionist and crusader for women’s rights. However, I did not know a lot about her early life and how her youth was able to shape the woman that helped to change history. I have been fortunate enough to visit her house and the Women’s Rights Museum that accompanies it, so reading The Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a treat for me. Elizabeth’s diaries begin when she is a young child listening in on her father’s sessions with young lawyers and takes us through the time when she met and married Henry Stanton.
First of all, I do love books written with diary entries. They always make me feel as if I am getting a super intimate look into someone’s life. This was written mostly from Elizabeth’s point of view with a short diary entry at the end of each chapter, therefore the diary entries generally just summed up the chapter. However, I did really enjoy the childhood and young adult character for Elizabeth that was portrayed: determined, curious, engaging, and adventurous and always learning. Elizabeth was a constant challenge for her parents and also challenged the roles of race and gender roles from a young age. I love that she fought for her education and took every chance she could to better herself. It was also very interesting to see all of the people that she came into contact with throughout her life thanks to her family ties, Henry Thoreau, a young Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and the Astors to name a few. I was most impressed by her unwillingness to marry a man who did not agree with her views on abolition and women’s rights. However, I wish the book didn’t stop at her marriage to Henry; I really wanted to continue to read about her campaigns with women’s rights and gender equality. Overall, an interesting look into the early life of a very interesting woman.
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
Sarah Bates worked as an advertising copywriter for ten years then as a freelance writer. Her clients included a book packager, the local chamber of commerce, a travel newsletter and a weekly newspaper where she covered business and schools.
Her short fiction has appeared in the Greenwich Village Literary Review, the San Diego North County Times (now the Union-Tribune) and the literary magazine Bravura. She is the author of Twenty-One Steps of Courage, an Army action novel published in 2012 and co-author of the 2005 short story collection, Out of Our Minds, Wild Stories by Wild Women.
She is the winner of Military Category, for Twenty-One Steps of Courage, Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2013) and 2nd Place Finalist, The Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Unpublished Novel- Category, San Diego Book Awards (2015)
Bates was an English Department writing tutor at Palomar College in California for ten years. She continues to privately tutor both academic and creative writing students and is writing a new novel. Sarah Bates lives in Fallbrook, California.
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Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton Excerpt
Charles Grandison Finney whose evangelical revivals swept America has Elizabeth in his emotional control. Vulnerable and weak, she faces the consequences.
Elizabeth couldn’t shake the bleak mood that seemed to hold her in its clutches. No matter how hard she tried, Finney’s terrifying words describing the lost souls who’d died without Jesus grew louder each time she recalled them. Yet by Sunday, the opportunity to listen once again to the excitement of his powerful oratory drew her like a magnet. She resisted, promising herself she would not go, not listen again to his warnings about the evil she knew with certainty lurked within her. Yet, at the last moment, she grabbed her bonnet and raced down the stairs to squeeze into the last wagon headed for the revival. Now so confused about the fight of good versus evil within her, she listened enrapt, certain he singled her out for his message of salvation. Perhaps if she were more pious, her father would recognize her strength and intelligence. Would he accept her then? Could a strong belief in God be the difference between how men and women were treated?
Within a week, Finney’s evangelical revivals were so popular he arranged to conduct daily prayer meetings at Troy Seminary after the evening meal. Nothing had united the girls like this so far, Mrs. Willard had told them. She was delighted when he said he would come to the school. Now with the revival preacher steps from her room, nothing restrained Elizabeth from filing into the dining hall with the other girls. In fact, schoolwork sessions diminished into a series of brief lectures so the girls could attend the revival meetings.
No matter how illogical the preacher’s commentary, its fiery purpose captivated Elizabeth until she succumbed to his artful pleas. Finally, feeling desperate and limp, she ignored her courses, consumed little food and withdrew from the day-to-day gossip of her friendships with Mavis and Camille. Even Amy Lee’s giddy chatter couldn’t cheer her. The twins pounded on Elizabeth’s door demanding to come in one day after a Finney prayer meeting. They found her curled up on the bed, her open Bible beneath her cheek.
“Lizzy, we are worried about you. This has gone on too long,” Camille said as sternly as she could. Their strict Baptist upbringing embraced revival meetings, but even they never heard anyone as convincing as Finney. The two sisters no longer attended the meetings, but fear for Elizabeth’s welfare brought them to her door.
The circles beneath Elizabeth’s blue eyes were now nearly purple. “You do not understand,” she said. She pulled her disheveled hair away from her collar. The pins that kept her curls in place lay strewn on the bare floor. A pair of soiled stockings hung draped over the chair by her desk and a half-eaten shriveled bit of bread lay on the windowsill.
Mavis bustled around the room righting its contents after throwing open the window to let in the warm afternoon breeze. She hummed to herself as she worked.
“Do not do that,” Elizabeth said, struggling to rise from her bed.
“You must not go back to that man,” Camille said with a note of finality in her voice. “We will not let you, right Sister?”
“I am going back. Tomorrow,” Elizabeth said. “The Reverend said repent and I will become an angel.”
“That is nonsense,” Mavis said. “No one is an angel. Not till you are dead, that is.”
“Well, I am going nevertheless.”
“Then we will go with you,” Camille said.
The next day, Elizabeth rushed into the dining hall to get a front seat with Camille and Mavis trailing behind her.
By the time the revival preacher reached the midpoint of his sermon and began to stride back and forth in front of the girls and their teachers, shaking his long black hair about his head with each gesture, drops of spit flew from his mouth.
“Ye shall repent, or forever be sentenced to eternal damnation. The Devil’s disciples are waiting to usher you into a Hell so hot, so full of burning embers ye shall never escape. Do you see them now?”
He stopped to point into the crowd and at that moment Elizabeth rose to her feet expecting to see the wretched people.
Mavis pulled her down into her chair. “Lizzy, it is all right, do not fret so.”
“I must find out how to repent,” she said, brushing her friend’s hand from her arm. Her heart pounded and when Finney stopped to take a breath, winding up his message, she dashed to the sidelines of the stage.
She waited while the man ended his sermon and left his pulpit to shake hands with the crowd as it emptied from the dining hall. While Camille and Mavis hovered in the background, Elizabeth approached Finney.
“Sir, I am profoundly changed by your messages,” she started. “And wish to repent, but I do not know how or what that means.”
Finney stared down at her, his blue eyes narrowed. When he clapped a hand on her shoulder she trembled.
“Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ child, that’s all there is to it,” he said.
“But I have done that and I’m still besieged with dreams of evil and terrible images.”
“Believe in Jesus and He will bring happiness to you,” Finney said, turning to gather up his Bible and his sermon notes.
“When does it happen?” She asked of his retreating back.
“Believe, my girl,” Finney called as he closed the dining hall door behind him.