The story of the life of Jane Franklin is told through her correspondence with her brother Benjamin Franklin, whose accomplishment and wealth are in sharp contrast to her life of struggle, disappointment and poverty. There were many times when I wondered why Ben Franklin, who is shown to be self-absorbed and egotistical on more than one occasion, didn’t swoop in and save Jane and her children from their difficult lives, providing more than the books that Jane requested and cherished. Later in his life he did provide for his youngest sister, making sure that she was comfortable and cared for in her old age, once most of her children had died in poverty. Even then, although he wrote more letters to her than anyone else in his lifetime, he never mentioned her in his own autobiography… what’s up with that Ben??
Well-read and opinionated, with her own political insights, one wonders what Jane’s life would have become had she been born in a different time. I don’t typically consider myself a “feminist” but the differences in the situations and opportunities for these two siblings are evident and unfortunate. The lack of opportunity for her to use her intelligence and pursue her passions, disturbingly little assistance available for dealing with her children’s medical and mental problems, and a weak debt-ridden husband left Jane with little hope for contentment, let alone achievement, in her life.
Well-written, with amazingly detailed research, it is an engrossing story of an unknown woman who just happened to have a famous brother.
“In the eighteenth century, history and fiction split. Benjamin Franklin’s life entered the annals of history; lives like his sister’s became the subject of fiction. Histories of great men, novels of little women.”
Title: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
Author: Jill Lepore
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biographical, History
Publication: Knopf, October 2013
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books. And who doesn’t love lists??
So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten list of books that I want to read this fall. There are WAY more than ten, there are always way more than ten books on my TBR list, and I am probably forgetting some or there are some that will hop to the top of the list later this year when I realize they are coming out, but here’s what I’m looking forward to right now…
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth – This is a series that I have been reading along with my daughter this summer and I am eager to read the final book!
- Sycamore Row by John Grisham – Grisham’s legal thrillers are always a fast and fun read and I am looking forward to a return to the setting of A Time to Kill.
- The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom – I’ve been a fan of Albom’s work in the past but found The Time Keeper to be a disappointment. I’m hopeful for better things with his next book.
- Just One Year by Gayle Forman – I read Just One Day earlier this year, not realizing that it was part of a series, and now I want to finish the story!
- Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich – The one series that always makes me laugh out loud!
- Loss of Innocence by Richard North Patterson – This novel is a prequel to Fall from Grace which I devoured in a day!
- Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith – This series always entertains me, yet always leaves me feeling relaxed and peaceful – must be something to do with the main character’s personality.
- Death of Santini by Pat Conroy – An author I have always enjoyed, with much of his work based on his life – this autobiographical story is sure to be worthwhile.
- Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore – I am interested in learning about Ben’s little sister who apparently had quite an active part in history as well.
- Edison and the Rise of Innovation by Leonard DeGraaf – The dork in me is always interested in the great scientific and engineering minds throughout history.