Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when being a writer was not an option open to women.
As one of the queen's attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the war her work earned her both fame and infamy in England; at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was "Mad Madge", an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London - a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution - and the last for another 200 years.
Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.
©2016 Danielle Dutton (P)2016 Tantor
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