A Tyranny of Petticoats Edited by Jessica Spotswood
A Tyranny of Petticoats contains 15 action-packed historical short stories featuring ambitious and awesome women. With an eye-catching cover and subtitle (15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, & Other Badass Girls), the reader is whisked on a journey through time, from 1710 to 1968.
Editor Jessica Spotswood puts together an intriguing collection that plays with multiple story elements through the lense of historical fiction. The women range from pirates (J. Anderson Coats), to teachers (Beth Revis), to fortune tellers (Marissa Meyer), and their stories are spread from Louisiana (Jessica Spotswood), to Indiana (Saundra Mitchell), to Alaska (Y.S. Lee). Each story concludes with a note from the author, explaining their inspiration and research, including which elements are factual and what has been tweaked for the tale.
“High Stakes,” by Andrea Cremer is a fantastical story set on the brink of the American Civil War in 1861. Cremer explores what influence supernatural creatures could have had on America’s politics and economy. “High Stakes” mixes mythology, and the struggles of loneliness caused by hiding your true self with racial tension and warfare.
“Pearls” by Beth Revis, set in 1876, highlights sexism and the hardships of being a woman at the time. The main character, Helen, runs from her problems to teach in Wyoming, the untamed wild west. Here, the reader is introduced to a young Annie Oakley. Annie and Helen face separate struggles, but gain insight from each other that leaves the reader rooting for both women to overcome their obstacles.
“City of Angels,” by Lindsay Smith opens on Evie, a riveter doing her duty during WWII while all the men are off fighting. Evie has a boyfriend overseas but doesn’t understand why her relationship with him feels boring. Everything changes when she falls in love – with another woman. Will she be accepted by society? And what will happen with her burgeoning writing career? Watch as her first female relationship opens doors she never expected and also problems she never considered.
Spotswood has put together a well-written collection that will inspire and excite the reader. A Tyranny of Petticoats stumbles a few times, covering such a wide range of topics, nationalities, and time periods that the reader might not be able to glean from context what the author is saying, but it doesn’t happen enough to put down the book.
Overall, A Tyranny of Petticoats allows the reader to experience what life was like for women throughout the last 300 years. The narrators are diverse and deal with a large range of problems based on culture and society, gender, sexuality, and race. This makes for a compelling collection. It will appeal to readers of historical fiction and to anyone looking for a unique, female perspective on American history.