Title: Remember the Ladies
Author: Gina L. Mulligan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Review copy from author/agent
My rating: 4/5
Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist surrounded by the egos of the 1887 Congress, a time before women had the right to vote. Her success in the isolating male arena comes from using the tactics she’s learned from those who oppressed her. So when she’s hired by the National Women’s Suffrage Association to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment granting women’s voting rights, Amelia feels empowered to at last win a place for herself and give all women a voice in the world. What she doesn’t foresee is the charismatic and calculating Senator Edward Stillman who threatens to ruin her hard-earned reputation and end her career.
Edward Stillman is desperate for status and power among Washington’s Old Guard. To gain control of the most dominant committee in the Senate, Stillman must crush the women’s amendment and anyone else in his way, including Amelia. He’s driven, clever, and willing to exploit any advantage. But in a political game where bribery, threats, extortion, and seduction prevail, each player must decide just how low they are willing to let the fight go. Who will win? And at what cost?
Set in the extravagant Gilded Age, Remember the Ladies explores the conflict between the sexes with delightful writing and elegant descriptions, which brings the reader back to a time when the struggle for women’s equality had just begun.
Imagine House of Cards and Scandal meets late 1800s. Mind blown. Who knew there was so much scandal and bribery in politics in our country’s short history? I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. At first, I was expecting a rags to riches story with victory closing the story out. What I found was a narrative of fighting for what is right (or perceived to be right) from two passionate, persuasive, and determined individuals – both alternately sharing their first-person perspective. I loved how much of a puzzle it was even though as an audience we may be aware of the historical context of women’s suffrage but not necessarily the different steps, successes, and failures that led to the decisions. It was like watching a game of chess, the players had plans laid out in their mind several steps ahead and needed to outsmart their opponent and/or deal with the new twist in the game when it was their turn. A taste of how politics works was a great way to educate the readers, especially with big issues recently in the U.S. and the upcoming Presidential election.
As a woman, I pictured myself in this time in history and wondered what camp I would fall into. I would like to think I would be in support of the women’s right to vote but who knows since there were women on both sides of the fence on the issue and Gilligan accurately painted that dichotomy and how that affected female relationships. It was interesting how quickly some of the women portrayed turned on one of their own in the face of challenge. I found that disheartening but utterly realistic as emotions run high with a life-changing vote. There was one part of the story that spoke to me about how with any population that is marginalized, even if the vote goes through in favor, there is so much more work to be done. It is a small step towards equality that should be celebrated but not quickly forgotten.
Read Remember the Ladies if you like the themes of:
- Women empowerment
- Battle of the sexes