Growing up in Cleveland, Miriam Brudno dreamed of becoming a doctor, like her father. But when she announced this, her parents said, ?You?re no beauty, and it?s too bad you?re such an intellectual. But if you become a doctor, no man will ever marry you.? Instead, at twenty, Miriam opened a bookstore, a profession everyone agreed was suitably ladylike. She corresponded with authors all over the world, including philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, political figures such as Max Eastman, and novelists such as Christopher Marlowe. It was the happiest time of her life.
Nearly thirty when she finally married, she fulfilled expectations, settled down, left her bookstore behind, and started a family. But conformity came at a tremendous cost. With labor-saving devices to aid in household chores, there was simply not enough to do to fill the days. Miriam?and most of her friends?were smart, educated women who were often bored, miserable, and silently rebellious.
On what would have been Miriam?s one hundredth birthday Reichl opens up her mother?s diaries for the first time and encounters a whole new woman. This is a person she had never known. In this intimate study Reichl comes to understand the lessons of rebellion, independence, and self-acceptance that her mother?though unable to guide herself?succeeded in teaching her daughter.