A powerful multigenerational saga from National Book Award finalist Martha McPhee that explores one family's story against the sweep of 20th-century American history. Drawn from the author's own family history, An Elegant Woman is a story of discovery and reinvention, following four generations of women in one American family. As Isadora, a novelist, and two of her sisters sift through the artifacts of their forebears' lives, trying to decide what to salvage and what to toss, the narrative shifts to a winter day in 1910 at a train station in Ohio. Two girls wait in the winter cold with their mother—the mercurial Glenna Stewart—to depart for a new life in the West. As Glenna campaigns in Montana for women's suffrage and teaches in one-room schoolhouses, Tommy takes care of her little sister, Katherine: trapping animals, begging, keeping house, cooking, while Katherine goes to school. When Katherine graduates, Tommy makes a decision that will change the course of both of their lives. A profound meditation on memory and history, An Elegant Woman illuminates complexities of class, race, love, and family, the sacrifices and compromises that go into making a life. An Elegant Woman, framed by Isadora's efforts to retell her grandmother's journey so she can interpret her own, is an evocative exploration of the stories we tell ourselves—and what we leave out.
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