Home > Books > Daughters of the Revolution

Daughters of the Revolution

A week ago, I wrote about The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, which I finished reading ten days ago. The next night, I was sitting out here in the backyard paging through the new New Yorker when I stopped at the Briefly Noted page with its single-paragraph book reviews. The last of them was of Carolyn Cooke’s slender new novel Daughters of the Revolution. As much as I enjoyed The Box, I wasn’t entirely charmed by its writing, so when I read that Cooke’s is “sensuous and alert,” I thought this might be a good change of pace.

I wondered why I hadn’t heard of the book, but a quick search online at the NYT website revealed that it had been reviewed just four days earlier in the Sunday Book Review. Somehow I had missed it. In the review, Danzy Senna expressed concern that the “15 chapters aren’t realized enough to stand as short stories, and yet never gather a novel’s force and singular vision.” But Senna also wrote that “the writing shimmers with intimate and revealing detail” and closed by describing “the paradox at the heart of Cooke’s story: a wave of half-liberated women entering the world before it was entirely ready to embrace them.” I was intrigued.

Amazon told me — thanks to the wonders of the internet — that i could be reading the book in under a minute. That sounded good to me, until I saw that the Kindle price for what I already described as a slender book was $12.99. The hardcover was more, but still, this e-book pricing struck me as outrageous. In protest, I did nothing for three hours. In further protest, before going to bed, I downloaded only the free sample, allowing me to read half of chapter one before going to sleep. The next morning my protest ended. I downloaded the full e-book so that I could find out how chapter 1 ends. And a couple of mornings later, I finished the book.

I agree with Senna that the book doesn’t entirely hold together, but it does have its charms. And it would have had a few more if I hadn’t already the examples Senna provides of Cooke’s wit and shimmer. I’ll close with an example of my own:

Father Reiss had been the chaplain at the Goode School until integration and coeducation collided explosively into a new condition called “diversity,” the chapel was turned into an ecumenical cultural center and moral guidance became a function of the Office of Student Health.

Categories: Books
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: