Wednesday, July 25, 2012

struggling to breathe - Alisa M. Libby

I think this topic highlights, in an interesting way, why I LOVE to read and write historical fiction. In different times in the past you can find teen girls chafing against the strictures of their era - you can't work, you can't vote, you are treated as your husband's possession, etc. Add to that the people who depend on them - the parents who rely on them to find a good husband and secure their future, rule their household, appear in society, have a family (sons!) of their own, and so on. While an independent main character is admirable, I like to give her something to struggle against, some ideals or expectations she's trying to break free from.

It's given me a lot to think about with my current WIP - a girl struggling with her desire for her own life and her fear of where it may lead. To be independent, we must trust in ourselves. Does my character trust herself? Do I trust myself? It depends on what day you ask me...


  1. I think that a lot of us can relate to that desire for independence, even if the story is set in a different time period. Teenagers in particular want to be recognized as independent (I know I did); I think it's part of growing up.

  2. I also think being a fighter (struggling against those outside expectations) makes for an admirable main character!

  3. One of the most enlightening academic things I've done is an NEH Summer Fellowship to U of Kansas to study the writing of Edith Wharton and Willa Cather, both of whom deal in their own way with female independence and gender issues. So I think about this a lot. I imagine how trapped Wharton felt in her marriage and upper class society that she would write Ethan Frome, where two lovers feel their only choice is to sled into a tree! After which they both live and suffer. Yikes!