Saturday, August 7, 2010

Virtuous Women by Margaret Karlin

Virtuous Women

Think Chick Lit... 1950s style.

The 1950s were a time of diners and poodle skirts...

horned rimmed glasses and fabulous cars...

and an era in which women were facing a new and tough choice: be a housewife or have a career?

This is about a group of four nurses fresh out of graduate school. They each want to find love and some are so desperate to find it, they look for it in the wrong places.

Picture caption: Washington University School of Nursing students in the early 1950s. This new style of student uniform, a jade green dress with a one-piece, button-on apron-bib combination, was introduced in June marries right out of nursing school. She deals with a meddling mother in law, converting to Judaism, and hiding her troubled past from her husband and friends. Tho her past is not her fault, she feels ashamed of it and worries what others will think. She must come to terms with it herself before anyone else can. It may be best that she do that before her baby is born as well.

Rebecca is very self absorbed. She takes up with a professional baseball player and fancies herself living a life of wealth at his side. The problem is the man is married already. Even if he leaves his wife, how does she know he is limiting his playing to the baseball field? Is he playing her?

Sue Ann is a very passive submissive character at first and I couldn't stand her until the last half of the book. A drive in movie leads to a shotgun wedding and an abusive marriage for her. I thought her TSTL for a while there but she surprised me in the end. In her case, marriage was not what she expected. Perhaps she should have stuck with a nursing career.

Kate is the star of the story. She is focused on a career. She works in the psych ward with violent patients. From the man with a whole in his throat to a food throwing woman who insists she is either Marie Antoinette or Mary Queen of Scots, there is much entertainment in the psych ward. Kate begins to wonder if she is having psych problems herself and starts seeing a psychiatrist herself which leads to a surprise turn of events and her finding herself.

Each woman has secrets. Each woman experiences terror in some way, either from their past or in their present. There are stalkers, abusive men, and potential rapists. But each woman must realize in their own time... that they don't need men. They can do it on their own.

A great look at Chicago in the 1950s and the nursing profession. It doesn't hit the 5 star mark because of my irritations with Sue Ann and it was just enjoyable entertainment. I can't say I learned anything amazing or cried or laughed. But a good read. 4 stars. I bought this on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo Tara! Great review and sounds like a very good book. I bet it had a lot of laughter. It is amazing how many women had to make the choice back then isn't it? Thanks for the info.