The subtitle of Book of Ages, The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, is what drew me to request this book. Jane was Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, and as they were close in age they were also close in spirit. This, however, is a cautionary tale about the differences between them, not in intelligence, but in opportunities. We know what kind of life Benjamin Franklin lived and of his inventions, diplomacy, writing, and other accomplishments. Do you know anything about Jane? No. And that is simply because she was a woman in the 18th century who was not given the opportunity to rise above the restrictions on women of her time.
I know this book will anger many readers but unfortunately the history is correct. Jane's life was sad and mostly lived in poverty. Her brother was kind to her because he loved her so, and also recognized that her mind was capable of great thought. He tutored her when they were young, but then he left home and there her lessons had to stop. In future years as she struggled through her marriage to a weak, failure of a man and her almost steady pregnancies, her brother helped her financially and provided her with books. Reading is probably what saved her sanity through much of her sad life.
This book is thoroughly researched and Lepore seems to feel close to Jane and sympathy toward her situation. There are appendices, footnotes, and all the scholarly information that support her manuscript. It is written, though, so that amateurs in women's history and actually general readers as well can read it with great interest. Warning - it will make the modern reader angry at the waste of such an intelligent person, and also angry at the lack of help available for her with her children's medical and mental problems.
Recommended, especially for women's history readers
Source: Amazon Vine