RUNAWAY TO HEAVEN by Joanna Johnston
Kirkus Star


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Harriet Beecher Stowe has received a curious kind of neglect for an American author whose major book is still so well known that everybody thinks they've read it. This is the first full scale biography to be published in 20 years. The biographer is a well known and talented author of children's books who knows how to tell a story well. One of the chief assets of this book is the way in which she puts her subject (who was so much a creature of her times) in historical context with chapters interspersed throughout the life that identify the religio-socio-politico and economic currents that washed around Mrs. Stowe. Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly was conceived by the author as a not unfavorable presentation of slavery as it existed in the early 1850's. The storm of audience reaction founded her fortune and so confounded Mrs. S. that she wound up claiming, ""God wrote it."" Its implied sexuality, its open piety and its tendencies to ramble were reflections of the woman herself -- she was only a by -stander in the two major scandals with which her name was connected. She was the daughter, wife and mother of ministers and the inability to get organized drove her to a hypochondria that ended in a gentle dottiness before she died at the age of 5. Her wanderings about the country coincided with the growth of the country -- one of the pioneer group of New Englanders settling Ohio when she moved there with her father and the first of the Florida commuters. Strong as a horse and convinced of her frailty, a successful woman who laughed at the suffrage movement, a passionate woman who lived primly and wrote with a suppressed raciness, -- Harriet Beecher Stowe's multitude of contradictions make for fascinating reading in a well written and beautifully organized book.

Publisher: Doubleday