First, I want to thank ElCicco for reviewing this book earlier in the CBR. Both my roommate and I read it and found it hard to believe that the women The Scarlet Sisters are real, and so were their adventures. But that’s what makes a biography worth reading, right?
So, who are these sisters and what did they do? They are Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin. They were the first women to be stockbrokers on Wall Street. In 1871. Yes, you read that correctly. 1871. They were friends (for a time) with Cornelius Vanderbuilt. Victoria ran for president, twice (and she was the first woman to do so, and on a ticket that included Frederick Douglass as the Vice Presidential Candidate). Tennie was named colonel of the New York’s 85th regiment, the only black regiment in the nation. They were leading Spiritualists, reformers, champions of the 8 hour work day, and suffragists working with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Isabella Beecher. And you likely know nothing about them.
My greatest takeaway from this book was the chronicling of the extremes of life in the Gilded Age. This book is subtitled Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age and it certainly covers all three. The middle of the book covers the 19th century’s trial of the century, the adultery trial of Henry Ward Beecher, the famous pastor and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. But, the lives of Victoria and Tennie showcase the ups and downs and the haves and have-nots of this era in a way I have not previously encountered.
I rate this a 3.5, because it is fascinating and informative, but a smidge slowly paced.
This review is also available on Cannonball Read.