What is this book about?
This is an incredibly comprehensive look at the history of married women's names in America. It addresses titles such as Ms. vs. Mrs., the rise in the 1800s of married women being called Mrs. Husband'sFirstName Husband'sLastName, and the fight for women to first use their own first names and then their birth names. It's very very well referenced and looks at societal trends, court cases, and newspaper articles. To be honest, I've been reading this since June sometime and am only now getting to the end (even though I'm a very fast reader generally) just because every few seconds I'd read something interesting and would put down the book to go look it up and freak out over it (people have done REALLY horrible things in the past to keep women from using the names they wish). Every time I read a book for this blog, I fold the corners of pages I want to go look back later (my mother would be so appalled at me). Basically every other page of this book is folded over, lol.
Who would love this book?
Someone who loves a little too much information about everything and enjoys reading about history and women's rights. It is in-depth and quite detailed. It also was written in the 70s and reflects that. Most of it is non-biased and academic in nature, but it does occasionally show its age. It'll go along quite nicely for several chapters and then out of nowhere you'll get an out of nowhere statement about how awful gay marriage is (something I fully and totally disagree with , fyi) or a weird musing on the Oedipal implications of Lucy Stone keeping her father's last name after marriage but still using "Mrs.", which literally means "wife of."
My Favorite Parts
I'm very fond of the part where they describe Ruth Hale's responses to people who tried to call her by her husband's last name. She referred anyone who asked for Mrs. Broun to her mother in law and if she received an invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Heywood Broun, she took the position that she wasn't invited. In a book full of sometimes depressing things people have done throughout history to try to keep married women from using their birth name, it was a nice spot of hilarity and light.
Does it talk about marital surname changes at all?
It's literally the entire point of the book! It's brilliant!