HARRIET by Norma Johnston


The Life and World of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Age Range: 11 & up
Email this review


 By the author of a fine Alcott biography (Louisa May [1991]), a perceptive portrait. Like Suzanne M. Coil (Harriet Beecher Stowe [1993]), Johnston has done her research thoroughly and offers a detailed, balanced account. Johnston's narrative skills, honed in over 60 YA novels, give her an edge; her depiction of Harriet's happy marriage to the scholarly but impractical Calvin Stowe is more credible than Coil's (``despite his hypochondria, his inability to cope with crises or to earn much money,'' Calvin ``had faith in her even when she did not herself [and] admired her mind''); her pivotal passages on the actual writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin are especially dramatic, while the final scenes of the aged widow wandering next door to pluck Sam Clemens's flowers, roots and all, have a touching authenticity. She also does a fine job of setting context and of showing how Harriet's Calvinist roots--particularly as manifested in the powerful Beecher clan--and other influences, radical and traditional, played roles in the development of her ideas and writing. Harriet continues to fascinate as a woman of--and also, in many ways, ahead of--her time, who did whatever she undertook with enormous competence and persistence. A dour jacket portrait does its subject scant justice. Archival photos, etc.; further reading (annotated); index (not seen). (Biography. 11+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-747714-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Four Winds/MacMillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994


ChildrenLOTTA'S PROGRESS by Norma Johnston
by Norma Johnston
ChildrenLOUISA MAY by Norma Johnston
by Norma Johnston