Lella Faye Secor, born in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1887, was not your ordinary female. As a young woman she homesteaded a...

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LELLA SECOR: A Diary In Letters 1915-1922

Lella Faye Secor, born in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1887, was not your ordinary female. As a young woman she homesteaded a claim in Washington, took a newspaper job in Spokane, and jumped at a friend's invitation to join Henry Ford's Peace Ship on its European mission. Converted to pacifism on the trip, she returned to New York as a peace-movement activist, supporting herself through journalism and boyfriends. When the U.S. entered the war, Secor married an English-reared (American-born) economics professor, had two sons (one named for Susan B. Anthony), and then--unable to face both interior decoration and ""the servant problem""--fled with her family to England where a servant class made housewifery less ""degrading."" Most of these developments Secor recorded between 1915 and 1922 in letters home--a baleful genre. Written mostly to her mother, a woman who apparently did her manipulative best to hang on to ""Baby Girl Lella,"" the letters are an uneasy mixture of guilt (""I am not for one moment forgetting my home obligations""), snobbery (""I met Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author, whose stuff you have doubtless read""), and ill-concealed bitterness (""Christmas of 1915 will always stand out [because] I received not a single gift""). Nevertheless, the struggles they describe--of a working woman trying to make it in New York--are disturbingly up-to-date. Secor's ""principles"" may be arbitrary and inconsistent, but she tried to be a brave woman and a ""great soul."" These letters--mundane, endlessly dull, and deeply fascinating--record in ways she could never have intended how and why she failed.

Pub Date: July 1, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Butt Franklin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1978