O My America! Second Acts in A New World, by Sarah Wheeler


Love the concept of this soon to be available book whose thrilling promise lies in its quiet subtitle – ‘Second Acts in a New World’…

In this work of historical fiction the author Sara Wheeler follows the trail of six middle-aged women who fled from Britain in the early nineteenth century to make their names in America. As I’ve written previously in Pioneer Spirit, in our modern culture where the world is absolutely saturated to breaking point with ideas/entrepreneurs/ technology/news… there is something infinitely fascinating about a past golden age of uncharted possibilities. The idea that a woman or a family could start a new chapter in their lives in a new world, completely reinventing everything – and the bravery it took them because the world was so much bigger then – when there was no way of turning back… is mind-blowing.

The six women in this fascinating book are; of Anthony and author of the cutting 1832 novel Domestic Manners of the Americans, actress Fanny Kemble, who made a passionate indictment of slavery; pamphleteering economist Harriet Martineau; homesteader Rebecca Burlend; traveller Isabella Bird; and Jane Austen’s niece, novelist Catherine Hubback, who deposited her husband in a madhouse and rode the brand new rails to San Francisco.

Tough-minded outsiders, these women’s truest qualities emerged in a country as incomplete and tentative as their native land was staid and settled. And they discovered second acts for themselves at a time when the world expected them to disappear politely. From the swampy heat of Georgia’s Sea Islands to the icy purity of the Cascades we are privy to their second glittering acts.

Published by Jonathan Cape on the 7th of March to co-incide with International Women’s Day, it will be available in hardback and e-book.

Author: Rohini Wahi

Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.

She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at mail@rohiniwahi.com

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