- Title: The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell: A Novel
- Author: William Klaber
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Published: February 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
- Source: Publisher
From the synopsis: The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell is the fictionalized account of Lucy’s foray into the world of men and her inward journey to a new sexual identity. It is her promised memoir as heard and recorded a century later by William Klaber, an upstream neighbor. Meticulously researched and told with compassion and respect, this is historical fiction at its best. (publisher)
My take: Lucy’s husband left her seven months before their daughter was born. That was a good thing. For the next three years she lived with her parents and siblings. She had a couple of jobs that paid a fraction of what a man would be paid for the same work. That fact, coupled with her mother wanting her to marry a repugnant man with three children of his own, was the impetus behind Lucy’s decision to transform herself and leave her parents’ home in 1855 to find work. In doing so she had to leave her daughter with her parents. She wanted to make a new life for her daughter and could see no other way except to leave her behind. Thus began a courageous journey that took Lucy from New York state all the way to Minnesota and back.
Skip ahead to the 20th century when author William Klaber and his wife moved to the area of Lucy’s early life. A local historian filled him in on Lucy and said he’d hoped to find her rumored memoir and then write her story. Instead he only had newspaper clippings and letters that he wanted to hand off to Klaber because he no longer felt up to writing the book. Klaber had some of the factual bones to Lucy’s story but there were wide sections of time, with no details to be found, that needed to be told. That’s when he decided to tell her story as a fictionalized memoir with imagined chapters to fill the gaps.
I found The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell to be a compelling look at what it was like to be a woman of the 1800s who didn’t fit normal standards and expectations. No spoilers here but I will say Klaber’s novel is heartbreaking yet inspiring and one I won’t soon forget.
I think book groups would find many aspects of the story worthy of discussion not the least being what it was like to be a woman in 19th century America. I appreciated the epilogue (The Apparent Widow) and the Afterward that explain the factual and fictional aspects of Lucy’s life as related by Klaber.