Page 14 - Lifestyles in Palm Beach Gardens - August '18
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Page 14, Lifestyles in Palm Beach Gardens

      Book Review from page 13                           162-page reference section that follows the almost 300-  Even if she survived childbirth, she could scarcely expect
                                                         page history that is the heart of the book. While some will   that her child would.”
      British invasion, and much more. Jane wrote to her brother   simply ignore this addendum, I found it fascinating. It     So I turned to the notes section at the back of the book,
      of all that was happening around her, and her fear of the   includes an explanation of Lepore’s methods and sources   to number 8 under chapter four, and this is what I found:
      coming war.                                        used to gather so many of the previously lost details of   “On average, an eighteenth-century white woman could
        Across the Atlantic, Benjamin – though acclaimed and   Jane’s life; a genealogy of the Franklin family dating back   expect to become pregnant between five and ten times, to
      celebrated in England over a period of many years – was   to 1665 (which is very helpful, since many of the children   give birth to between five and seven live children. Mary
      now sending secret messages of his own to contacts in the   were named for parents, grandparents, etc.); a detailed   Beth Norton,  Liberty’s  Daughters:  The  Revolutionary
      colonies, providing valuable information about the king’s   calendar of all the letters written by Jane and Benjamin,   Experience  of American  Women,  1750-1800 (Boston:
      military plans, until one of his messages was intercepted by   and others, from January 1727 to July 1793; a chapter   Little, Brown, 1980), 72.” I found that extra fact quite
      a traitor and he was deported from England. In the colonies,   about all of the books that Jane had in her home library,   interesting.
      his own son, the Governor of New Jersey, continued to be   and how she obtained them; and, best of all, a remarkably     With unanimous praise from reviewers who described
      a Royalist who protested against the Revolution and was   comprehensive and helpful 90-page section of notes tied   this book as “luminous,” “marvelous,” “fantastic,” and
      eventually branded a traitor to the new nation.    to footnotes from each chapter in the book (see an example   “eloquent,” perhaps  The Washington Post said it best:
        Perhaps the most striking, and saddest, example of the   in the next paragraph), and an index.     “We may know about Jane Franklin only because of her
      difference in Benjamin’s and Jane’s status is the fact that     Here is an example of the kind of information you will   famous brother, but he is not why she matters.”
      hundreds of Benjamin’s letters are preserved in archives   find by turning to the notes section from time to time.     And Time Magazine said, “Jane Franklin’s indomitable
      and are worth fortunes today, whereas the first letter from   In chapter four, after the following sentences, there is a   voice and hungry, searching intellect shine through these
      Jane that survives is one she wrote not to her brother but   footnote marked 8: “Men waged wars, but for women each   pages; she will not be forgotten, and the world is richer
      to his wife (who had stayed behind in Philadelphia, did   birth was another battle. No woman dared imagine herself   for it.”
      not see Benjamin for years at a time, and died while he   spared, not by grace, not by wealth: pain was her portion.     Read this book. You will be richer for it.
      was  still  in  England);  Jane  wrote  that  letter  when  she
      was 45 years old! All the letters she had written before
      that time have been lost to history because they were not
      considered important!
        This fact alone makes clear how incredibly diligent and
      thorough was the research for this book on the part of its
      author, Jill Lepore, who is Professor of American History
      at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker
      magazine. She has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and   Upscale Resale
      a winner of the Bancroft Prize. Lepore studied Benjamin
      Franklin’s letters, many of which refer to the content of his
      sister’s letters in his responses to them, which enabled the   Experience The Difference
      author to determine much of what Jane wrote.
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