Friday, December 30, 2016

The early life of Queen Victoria

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.


I have yet to watch the PBS Series Victoria, but after reading this novel, I am intrigued and eager to see it. The author wrote both the screenplay and this book.

The novel spans the early life of Victoria, from becoming queen to her marriage to Prince Albert. The author did an exceptional job at portraying Victoria as young and impressionable, sometimes naive, too. I enjoyed the interaction and affection she shared with the Prime Minister who proved to be a strong ally and mentor, guiding and easing her into the political arena. 

I loved this book from start to finish. It is a coming of age story, one of perseverance and triumph, and one that portrays Victoria with all her imperfections and courage. For those who are fascinated with England's Royal Family or those who simply enjoy historical biographical tales, there is much within this book's pages to entertain. It definitely left me eager to read the next installment.

Definitely recommended.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Stand by your man! The loyalty of Emma Jung

Emma Rauscheback Jung
Emma was one of the richest heiresses in all of Switzerland when she met the handsome but penniless psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. 

Carl Jung
The moment he set eyes on Emma, he knew she would become his wife. That instinct proved true - Emma agreed to marry him. They wed on Valentine's Day in 1903. 

Loyal and dedicated to her husband, Emma became his partner. She assisted him in his work and soon became an analyst like him. What really fascinated her, however, was the legend of the Holy Grail. 

The years of the marriage were more than turbulent. Carl Jung had a darker side he had kept hidden from her at first. The victim of child sexual abuse, he had always led a tortured, isolated life. 

As an analyst, she began to work independently of her husband and she regularly corresponded with Sigmund Freud. 

Their marriage produced five children. After the birth of their last child, Carl's philandering ways took root. That's when Carl met a young patient who began training under him. Her name was Toni Wolff, and Carl was entirely smitten by her. 

After the birth of his last child with Emma, he entered into an affair with Toni that lasted for several decades. 

He swept Toni to Ravenna on a secret vacation and even found a way to bring her into his household. Carol considered Toni to be his second wife. A gritty Emma tolerated the relationship between the two, but she banned Toni from sharing their meals or spending time with the family in the evening. In time, Carl begged Emma for a divorce, but she refused.    
Carl's affairs did not begin or end with Toni Wolff. Other women came forward, namely Sabina Spielrein who kept a diary of her love affair with Carl. 
Despite Carl's affairs, he loved Emma. She died of cancer in 1955, six years before he did. He grieved her sorely, claiming she was the foundation of his home and calling her a queen. He had her gravestone engraved with, "Oh vase, sign of devotion and obedience."
Author Catrine Clay has delved into researching Emma Jung's life and has put together her intriguing non-fictional biography entitled Labyrinths.

Catrine Clay
A sensational, eye-opening account of Emma Jung’s complex marriage to Carl Gustav Jung and the hitherto unknown role she played in the early years of the psychoanalytic movement.
Clever and ambitious, Emma Jung yearned to study the natural sciences at the University of Zurich. But the strict rules of proper Swiss society at the beginning of the twentieth century dictated that a woman of Emma’s stature—one of the richest heiresses in Switzerland—travel to Paris to "finish" her education, to prepare for marriage to a suitable man.
Engaged to the son of one of her father’s wealthy business colleagues, Emma’s conventional and predictable life was upended when she met Carl Jung. The son of a penniless pastor working as an assistant physician in an insane asylum, Jung dazzled Emma with his intelligence, confidence, and good looks. More important, he offered her freedom from the confines of a traditional haute-bourgeois life. But Emma did not know that Jung’s charisma masked a dark interior—fostered by a strange, isolated childhood and the sexual abuse he’d suffered as a boy—as well as a compulsive philandering that would threaten their marriage.
Using letters, family interviews, and rich, never-before-published archival material, Catrine Clay illuminates the Jungs’ unorthodox marriage and explores how it shaped—and was shaped by—the scandalous new movement of psychoanalysis. Most important, Clay reveals how Carl Jung could never have achieved what he did without Emma supporting him through his private torments. The Emma that emerges in the pages of Labyrinths is a strong, brilliant woman, who, with her husband’s encouragement, becomes a successful analyst in her own right.


I don't normally read non-fiction. I prefer fictionalized biographies, but Labyrinths by Catrine Clay was entirely entertaining and well worth reading. It is obvious the author conducted in-depth research into Emma's life, drawing from personal letters, diaries, and articles of the time. Together, she gives us an intimate glimpse into the turbulent life of this famous couple. I also learned a great deal about psychoanalysis and the interpretation of dreams, a subject that has always fascinated me. 

If you adore reading about stoic, intelligent, and courageous women, despite facing numerous adversities, then this book is sure to keep you as entertained as it did me. Well worth reading! Highly recommended!  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Warrior of the People - Susan La Flesche Picotte

Dr Susan Laflesche Picotte
1865 - 1915

The first American Indian woman to earn a medical degree.
She graduated at the top of her class, and a year early.
She founded the first privately funded hospital located on a reservation.

Susan La Flesche Picotte was first person to receive federal aid for professional education, and the first American Indian woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. In her remarkable career she served more than 1,300 people over 450 square miles, giving financial advice and resolving family disputes as well as providing medical care at all hours of the day and night.

Susan La Flesche was born to Chief Joseph La Flesche (Iron Eyes) and his wife, Mary (One Woman) on the Omaha Reservation in northeastern Nebraska. She attended school there until age 14. Her father encouraged his people to seek education and build relationships with white reform groups. After being home-schooled for several years, Picotte was sent to the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in New Jersey.

Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in New Jersey.

She returned home at age 17 to teach at the Quaker Mission School on the Omaha Reservation for two years.

As a child, she had watched a sick Indian woman die because the local white doctor would not give her care. Picotte later credited this tragedy as her inspiration to train as a physician, so she could provide care for the people she lived with on the reservation.

While working at the Quaker school, La Flesche attended to the health of ethnologist Alice Fletcher, who was working there. 

Alice Fletcher
With Fletcher's urging, she went back East to complete her education and earn a medical degree. She enrolled at Hampton Institute, one of the nation's first and finest schools of higher education for non-white students. 

Hampton Institute
The resident physician there, Martha Waldron, was a graduate of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) and encouraged her to apply to the Woman's Medical College. 

Once again, Alice Fletcher helped La Flesche by securing scholarship funds from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs and the Connecticut Indian Association, a branch of the Women's National Indian Association. 

After only two years in a three-year program at WMCP, Susan La Flesche graduated in 1889 at the top of her class. She remained in Philadelphia to complete year's internship, and then returned home to provide health care to the Omaha people at the government boarding school, where she was responsible for some twelve hundred people.

Susan La Flesche married Henry Picotte in 1894 and the couple moved to Bancroft, Nebraska, where she set up a private practice, serving both white and non-white patients. Along with her busy practice, Picotte also raised two sons and nursed her husband through a terminal illness. In 1906 she led a delegation to Washington, D.C., to lobby for prohibition of alcohol on the reservation.

In 1913, two years before her death, she saw her life's dream fulfilled when she opened a hospital in the reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska. Today the hospital houses a museum dedicated to the work of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte and the history of the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.
Biography Courtesy of National Library of Medicine (NLM)

On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche received her medical degree―becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country.
By age twenty-six, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick―tuberculosis, small pox, measles, influenza―families scattered miles apart, whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs.
This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people―physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually. 

A Warrior of the People is the moving biography of Susan La Flesche’s inspirational life, and it will finally shine a light on her numerous accomplishments.

The author will donate all royalties from this book to a college scholarship fund he has established for Native American high school graduates.


I am always thrilled to discover a woman of history who broke barriers and rose above insurmountable odds to achieve a lofty goal even in today's terms. Susan La Flesche did just that. Despite all her amazing achievements, little is known about the details of her life. 

Author Joe Starita has conducted intricate research to recreate the path of this wonderous woman's life. He portrayed her honorably, in a way that showed off her fortitude and determined intelligence. She was a woman dedicated to her people and to improving their lives. Teacher, healer, scholar, wife, mother, and physician, she forged through barriers to become the first American Native woman to become a doctor. 

Definitely worth reading - it will inspire and motivate you!