Mistress Suffragette

Mistress Suffragette is a joy ride through late 19th-century New England, a comedy of manners from a new and exciting voice in historical fiction. This novel picks up where Jane Austen left off. Diana Forbes's debut is as smart as it is compelling.
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A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women–the incorrigible Edgar Daggers. Over a series of encounters, he promises Penelope the financial security she craves, but at what cost? Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Initially, as Penelope grows into her own in the burgeoning early Women’s Suffrage Movement, Edgar exerts pressure, promising to use his power and access to help her advance. But can he be trusted, or are his words part of an elaborate mind game played between him and his wife? During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love, lust, and the allure of an easier life.
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In the midst of the "golden era" of the United States of America (a period after the Civil War and Reconstruction in which the country experienced an unprecedented economic, industrial and demographic expansion, but also great social and economic conflict), the country is entering a serious economic depression that would later be called “The Panic of 1893”. The Stantons, an upper middle class family from Newport, Rhode Island, are urged to marry their daughters to get them out of economic trouble. The banker and predator of distressed damsels Edgar Daggers offers a promising job to Penelope, whom he harasses insistently, despite being a married man. The girl's parents insist that the deal is the best thing that could have happened to them, but Penelope feels trapped between the illusion of love, the economic pressure and the fear of losing her reputation. Trying to take distance, Penelope gets involved in the Boston Women's Suffrage Movement, and in it she finds a new goal that’s in direct conflict with her system of values. This book is the fictionalized diary of a young lady who undertakes the unorthodox path of female suffrage, and whose goals are: to make women "put on their pants", become financially independent and knowledgeable about the laws that involve them, and get (of course) the right to vote. Penelope's story is very interesting and the plot is full of romance, history, wisdom ("I'm a pacifist, I said. —You still have to fight for what is right. It's called leadership.") and it's also very funny. As if that were not enough, the book is surprisingly well documented and contextualized: from the artistic moment (the Ashcan painting school), the details of the women's suffrage movement, the post-fire Boston environment and the technological advances of the time (the typewriter with vertical mechanical action, the bicycle variants) to the weather events of the period, such as the hurricane of 1893. I highly recommend this book. It is perfectly well written and edited, and both the characters and the plot have been sculpted with great detail and care. Mistress Suffragette is one of those books that are read with pleasure, enjoyed with a smile and that leave a very good "taste in the mouth."

-- Hessen

I always love it when a story combines history with humor. The author Diana Forbes presents us the best of the 1890’s in a story form. This novel looks at many things including love and romance and black magic, as well as casts a light on the values of the society at the time of the story’s setting. This book also used the character, Penelope Stanton, to look at how events can change the life of a woman over time. This is particularly an important point due to the fact that it is very relative to us. Downline the novel, she meets Mr. Daggers who was insistent in her becoming his mistress. She always found a way of dealing with his advances towards her. Mr. Daggers had a really bad domineering attitude. This book also looks at a point where women either gets married after puberty or be forced under the care of a man. From point to point I was forced to stop reading and check the historical facts contained in this book. This is certainly a nice and engaging book. The author draws us to a point in Chicago when the city was growing up technologically. I was amazed when the author pointed it out that the zipper and electric street lights were invented in Chicago. I had to stop once again to check the facts. I learned a lot from this book. It’s a perfect blend of fiction and history and as such suitable for general reading. However, I had some hard feeling about the fact that Lydia was going to be forced into marriage at a young age of 15 to save her family. This seems strange but still, we still have these things happening even in our modern world today.

-- KarynH

About the Author ▸ Diana Forbes

Diana Forbes is an historical fiction author who is passionate about old New York, ancestry, and untold stories. She is a ninth-generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her nineteenth-century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived. She is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes’s Publication History: 1. “Mistress Suffragette” (Penmore Press, 2017) is available in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon. 2. “Temptation,” a chapter from the sequel to Mistress Suffragette, was published in the Saturday Evening Post’s “Great American Fiction” Contest anthology of winners in January 2017. 3. A selection from Mistress Suffragette won 1st Prize in Women’s Fiction in the Missouri Romance Writers of America “Gateway to the Best” Contest. 4. Garcia Memorial Prize, 2018 “Best Fiction Book of the Year.” 5. Mistress Suffragette won 1st place, Best Romance, 2018 Reader Views Awards. 6. 2018 North East Regional Award Winner, Reader Views Awards. 7. Mistress Suffragette won 1st Place in the 2016 Chatelaine Award, in the “Romantic and Sensual” category. 8. Won the 2017 Book Excellence Award for “Romance.” 9. Awarded the Silver 2017 North American Book Award for “History.” 10. Awarded the Silver, 2017 NYC Big Book Awards, “Historical Fiction.” 11. Finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” contest in “Women’s Fiction.” 12. Shortlisted in the 2016 Chanticleer Somerset Award for “Literary Fiction.” 13. Shelf Unbound, 2018 Best Indie Book—Notable Indie 14. Kirkus Best Indies Books of 2017 Starred Kirkus Review: “The book feels like it was written at the time, reading like an alternate, feminist take on The House of Mirth’s “well-born lady in reduced circumstances” with a decidedly happier ending. A sprightly, winning historical novel about an unexpected romance—between a young woman and her own power”.
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