I am reading Isabella, Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer. The book itself is unputdownable. Which sounds funny because it’s an ebook. But this makes it easier for me not to part with it, to keep up with it, whether it be on my tablet, my phone or my laptop, where I’m supposed to be working.
Rarely does a story capture me in this way, but this one sates several of my appetites. It’s based on history. It’s based on French and English history, which fascinate me. It’s based on a woman, a strong woman, with whom I can easily identify with.
I don’t consider myself a student of women’s studies, but I often wonder how women did it. Since the time Eve supposedly went rogue. How did they handle life’s challenges? No matter the culture, no matter the society, women ended up relegated to second class status, if even that high.
How did they handle their personal and family needs in primitive times? How did they get up each morning to ferry the water from the river or the well and carry it home on their head or on their hip, how did they go out to cut the wood to build the fire to cook the food that perhaps they themselves had grown or gathered?
How did they deal with illness when there was no science to lead the way, or at least point the way? Many died in childbirth and there were other diseases that killed them outright. But RA doesn’t do that, not so genteelly, for it is vulgar and rude. It toys with you like a cat with a mouse.
I’m sure this scourge of a disease existed way before we ever put the wrong name to it and I wonder how all who suffered from it dealt with its invasions and assaults. What fortress did they have to shelter them from its slings and arrows? What did they do when it battered at their gates?
I wonder about all its sufferers from the past, but mostly I wonder about the women. For all that we are called the “fair sex” or the “weaker sex,” we have to be mighty in all that we do. Even while being accosted by an uninvited, malevolent presence we have to grit our teeth and bear it.
And so it cheers me when I read about strong female characters, real historical figures. Though obviously fictionalized to some extent, these women did exist. These women did persevere. These women did prevail, and even flourish, in spite of it all.
Women like Doña Antonia Avero, whom I “ran into” at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.
I was both surprised and impressed to read
the words next to her portrait. I had not known this fact about Spanish Florida.
I had never heard of her either, but I plan to find out if there is more to read about her life. Even at my age, I am always looking for role models, and for inspiration to help me face life with hope each day.
This might be another story I can share with my granddaughters. Already they have demonstrated a love for books and reading, which pleases me no end.
For you are never bound to one station or one place when you can read yourself away or beyond. When the portals to dreams and possibilities are opened for you by those who came before.
This sounds like a fabulous book. I am also obsessed with history, but my obsession is with Tudor England. I have a wonderful book called She-Wolves about all the queens of England leading up to and beyond the Tudor times. I love getting lost in their world, so different from ours. They are amazing in their strength and determination. Stay strong 🙂
I’m also intrigued by Tudor England. I will have to look for that book you mention. Though I have read vast amounts about Henry and his six wives, I am far more interested in his daughter Elizabeth. Talk about a strong woman. This book by Falconer is written lean and clean. No outsized words or fancy mechanics to clutter up the read. It literally goes down smooth as butter.
I’ve often wondered about how women from times past handled life, as well. It must have been one of terrible drudgery unless she was wealthy and had people to do the tedious and physically difficult and exhausting things for her. Then add RA? I hate to be morbid, but my guess is that people who had RA, particularly women, didn’t survive very long at all.
I’m still amazed by them all, though, because without all those magnificent women who survived life in older times, many of us–if not most of us– wouldn ‘t be here at all.
The book sounds like a good one. I think I’ll see if I can find it for my Kindle, or maybe through Audible. And Irma–wonderful post. Thought provoking and so well-written. Thank you! 😉
Join BookBub, Wren. http://www.bookbub.com I did and I have been downloading books like crazy. At least, more than I was already! Some are free, others are a dollar or two. As a writer, this doesn’t make me too happy, but as a reader I’m thrilled! I too think that RA took people quickly back then, but not quick enough, they must have suffered so. Hope you enjoy the book(s).
I love historical fiction, too, and it makes me very glad I wasn’t born earlier! My mother was born in 1920, and the stories she told of her life made me wonder how she could have survived the poverty and hardships she faced. She would shrug and say “I didn’t know any better. You just do what you have to do in life.” I think people of every historical period probably felt that way. Even in the 1900s (and this century also), many people with serious health issues died early from diseases we now can treat to prolong life. Imagine what the progress in medicine in the future will hold for those of us with chronic illness!
I love my Kindle, and have hundreds of books on it waiting to be read. However, I will check out the bookbub link you mention as I don’t believe anyone can have too many books!
Hi, Carol. My mother was also born in 1920 and I agree that what they went through does not bear thinking about. To them it was just life. Hopefully in the future we’ll have painless medicine. And no chronic disease. Hope you enjoy BookBub. It’s free, a wonderful little site. And no, we cannot have too many books.