web site hit counter Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time

Availability: Ready to download

In Ruth Hall, one of the bestselling novels of the 1850s, Fanny Fern drew heavily on her own experiences: the death of her first child and her beloved husband, a bitter estrangement from her family, and her struggle to make a living as a writer. Written as a series of short vignettes and snatches of overheard conversations, it is as unconventional in style as in substance In Ruth Hall, one of the bestselling novels of the 1850s, Fanny Fern drew heavily on her own experiences: the death of her first child and her beloved husband, a bitter estrangement from her family, and her struggle to make a living as a writer. Written as a series of short vignettes and snatches of overheard conversations, it is as unconventional in style as in substance and strikingly modern in its impact.


Compare

In Ruth Hall, one of the bestselling novels of the 1850s, Fanny Fern drew heavily on her own experiences: the death of her first child and her beloved husband, a bitter estrangement from her family, and her struggle to make a living as a writer. Written as a series of short vignettes and snatches of overheard conversations, it is as unconventional in style as in substance In Ruth Hall, one of the bestselling novels of the 1850s, Fanny Fern drew heavily on her own experiences: the death of her first child and her beloved husband, a bitter estrangement from her family, and her struggle to make a living as a writer. Written as a series of short vignettes and snatches of overheard conversations, it is as unconventional in style as in substance and strikingly modern in its impact.

30 review for Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    Fanny Fern. Her real name was Sara Willis. In 1855 she was the highest-paid newspaper columnist in the US, according to the Wiki article about her. One hundred dollars per week back when that was a ton of money. But did she get to that point overnight? Not hardly. She struggled with incredible difficulties in her life, and the 1854 book Ruth Hall is the "fictional autobiography" that shows the reader exactly what Fanny/Ruth experienced. We meet Ruth on the eve of her wedding. She is fresh out of Fanny Fern. Her real name was Sara Willis. In 1855 she was the highest-paid newspaper columnist in the US, according to the Wiki article about her. One hundred dollars per week back when that was a ton of money. But did she get to that point overnight? Not hardly. She struggled with incredible difficulties in her life, and the 1854 book Ruth Hall is the "fictional autobiography" that shows the reader exactly what Fanny/Ruth experienced. We meet Ruth on the eve of her wedding. She is fresh out of boarding school, hoping to at last be loved and admired, something she has never felt herself to be, either from family or fellow students. We pass the years with Ruth, laughing with her when her joy for life fills her world, crying with her when sad times strike (as they always do) and hurrying through the chapters to find out if good times return. Meanwhile we also meet her parents, brother, a cousin or two, and her in-laws. As a group the entire bunch is the most miserable set of people I have ever read about. I was often infuriated at the way they treated Ruth. But I was also disgusted at times with Ruth herself for not standing up and saying or doing something to defend herself. I had to remind myself of the difference between our modern times and the 1800's. Women usually did not make waves back then, at least the 'well-bred' ones, that is. And Ruth was so young, so trusting. I wondered if she would ever grow up enough to handle herself in the real world. I was more than halfway through the book before I thought to look at the Wiki page about the author and learned that this book was based on her own life. Although I confess it seems unusual that anyone could be as saintly as Ruth, and surely no one could be so wicked as that crowd of family? But there are always plenty of crudely ignorant people around. It is the idea that so many were gathered into one person's life in this way that boggles my mind. I would like to share two paragraphs. The first is from the author's introduction and touched my heart when I read it: "I present you with my first continuous story. I do not dignify it by the name of “A novel.” I am aware that it is entirely at variance with all set rules for novel-writing. There is no intricate plot; there are no startling developments, no hair-breadth escapes. I have compressed into one volume what I might have expanded into two or three. I have avoided long introductions and descriptions, and have entered unceremoniously and unannounced, into people’s houses, without stopping to ring the bell. Whether you will fancy this primitive mode of calling, whether you will like the company to which it introduces you, or whether you will like the book at all, I cannot tell. Still, I cherish the hope that, somewhere in the length and breadth of the land, it may fan into a flame, in some tried heart, the fading embers of hope, well-nigh extinguished by wintry fortune and summer friends." And the second is a description of a woman who rented a room to Ruth. If you cannot see her clearly after reading this, you never will be able to see her: In person Mrs. Waters was barber-pole-ish and ram-rod-y, and her taste in dress running mostly to stringy fabrics, assisted the bolster-y impression she created; her hands and wrists bore a strong resemblance to the yellow claws of defunct chickens, which children play “scare” with about Thanksgiving time; her feet were of turtle flatness, and her eyes—if you ever provoked a cat up to the bristling and scratching point, you may possibly form an idea of them." Fanny Fern was my July Literary Birthday author and a new discovery for me. I am looking forward to reading her weekly columns, which were collected and published in book form. There are five of these volumes listed at Project Gutenberg, as well as one other novel and a children's book. I have a feeling my heart will be touched again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    Fanny Fern wrote a fictionalized version of many incidents that happened in her own life. Written in 1854, the book shows how difficult it was for widows with children to survive. Fanny Fern had little help from her family after her husband died and left her impoverished. After some difficult times, Fanny Fern (and the fictional Ruth Hall) was successful as a newspaper columnist and a writer of popular fiction. Readers with an interest in the history of women's fiction would find Ruth Hall: A Do Fanny Fern wrote a fictionalized version of many incidents that happened in her own life. Written in 1854, the book shows how difficult it was for widows with children to survive. Fanny Fern had little help from her family after her husband died and left her impoverished. After some difficult times, Fanny Fern (and the fictional Ruth Hall) was successful as a newspaper columnist and a writer of popular fiction. Readers with an interest in the history of women's fiction would find Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time a valuable addition to their reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marne Wilson

    I wrote my master's thesis on Fanny Fern, so obviously this book is very special to me. Like a lot of first novels, it hews pretty closely to Fern's own biography, and therefore the plot doesn't have a lot of big surprises, but Fern had a real eye for human behavior, and even the smallest bit characters in the story are rendered with surprising depth in just a few words. This is definitely the easiest of Fern's novels to obtain these days, but if you want to read the best, I would recommend Rose I wrote my master's thesis on Fanny Fern, so obviously this book is very special to me. Like a lot of first novels, it hews pretty closely to Fern's own biography, and therefore the plot doesn't have a lot of big surprises, but Fern had a real eye for human behavior, and even the smallest bit characters in the story are rendered with surprising depth in just a few words. This is definitely the easiest of Fern's novels to obtain these days, but if you want to read the best, I would recommend Rose Clark.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    A roman a clef by the nineteenth-century Erma Bombeck. "Fanny Fern" aka Sara Willis Parton (no relation to Dolly) was an acerbic columnist from 1851-1872 and at one point America's highest paid newspaper contributor. In retrospect, it's easy to see why her writing would prove popular: she is one of the few nineteenth-cen women whose style tended more toward the sarcastic than the pious, and she was all about calling dudes in cravats out on their hypocrises---especially her brother, Nathaniel Par A roman a clef by the nineteenth-century Erma Bombeck. "Fanny Fern" aka Sara Willis Parton (no relation to Dolly) was an acerbic columnist from 1851-1872 and at one point America's highest paid newspaper contributor. In retrospect, it's easy to see why her writing would prove popular: she is one of the few nineteenth-cen women whose style tended more toward the sarcastic than the pious, and she was all about calling dudes in cravats out on their hypocrises---especially her brother, Nathaniel Parker Willis, who if he'd been born 150 years later would've been Simon on The Real Housewives of New York. Ruth Hall is FF's barely fictionalized account of her rise to fame. It was controversial in its time because it was seen as ungracious for a lady to take revenge in print on the family that had shanked her and her kids after the death of her first husband. If you're reading formalistically, you're likely to be disappointed: for all the addy-tude, the chapters are short and often fringed in sentimental apostrophes and exclamation points. It is notable for being one of the few novels of the day not to submit to the marriage plot---something even Alcott in Little Womenz couldn't avoid. Yet the real interest here is the biographical background. Even in its day the book was a bestsmeller because folks were curious about who FF really was---and some schmuck she barbeques in the book outed her shortly after its publication, promptly doubling sales. Perhaps what's really interesting is the background FF leave out: her disastrous second marriage---forced on her by her family---is not part of Ruth's journey (although it is fictionalized in Fanny Ford, FF's second novel). FF left the louche and toiled into semi-poverty until she found her metier. The rest is history, and this book, for all its historical importance, sometimes errs on the side of bragging about it too much. There are interpolated fan letters that get mocked (a proto-Casey Kasem request that FF dedicate a column to a reader's dead dog Fido) and some protests-too-much blather about FF not pretending to be literature. So it's a mixed bag. Many in the class loved it ... way better than Moibus Dickus. But that's okay. It ain't like Melville needs us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Wow! This book is crazy. The author has so much talent; she vividly and completely paints such stunning descriptions - fun! alive! intelligent! - with just a few words. The book itself is interesting in that it was written by a woman in the 1850's, and yet it eschews the marriage plot entirely. On the surface the book appears to disdain organized religion and to abhor racial prejudice, championing intelligence, hard work, and an almost secular ethic of fair treatment and individual freedom. But Wow! This book is crazy. The author has so much talent; she vividly and completely paints such stunning descriptions - fun! alive! intelligent! - with just a few words. The book itself is interesting in that it was written by a woman in the 1850's, and yet it eschews the marriage plot entirely. On the surface the book appears to disdain organized religion and to abhor racial prejudice, championing intelligence, hard work, and an almost secular ethic of fair treatment and individual freedom. But the agile brevity of the descriptions she paints foreshadows the larger problems with the book. Characterizations that bloom in seconds never grow or change as the plot drives forward. They certainly get reiterated in minute variations, sometimes fascinating, but ultimately repetitive. The initial "zinging" brilliance of her lampoon of the uncharitable relatives (and other religious hypocrites, pharisees and the like) quickly becomes a strident rant that heavy-handedly lifts up our heroine up to tiresome sainthood. And your sinking suspicion that the heroine is the author herself is entirely correct. The book is largely autobiographical, down to the relations with the uncaring relatives toward the end of the book. I don't want to give too much away. I think what was the absolute worst part of the book was the casual anti-semitism thrown in just pages after the Irish and African American characters debunk, in their relations with the heroine, the ugly prejudices of the "bad" characters, and repeated later in the book when Ruth finally gets a job at a publishing company. Someone said the Fanny Fern was the Erma Bombeck of the 1850's. I found her to be more of a cross between Oscar Wilde's aphoristic brilliance and Sarah Palin's down-homey, good-time-religion self-regard and self-satisfaction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Hoffert

    Had to read this for school. Not the most critical of reviews, but the book was ok. It was short, easy to follow/understand, and ultimately didn't bore me like most books that mandatory university reading. Had to read this for school. Not the most critical of reviews, but the book was ok. It was short, easy to follow/understand, and ultimately didn't bore me like most books that mandatory university reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    shellyindallas

    Poor Ruth. She, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. But she's tough and determined and driven and soon enough things go Ruth's way. Hooray! I do have one issue with this book though. Apparently, Ruth Hall's story closely parallels her author's--Fanny Fern. So when you get to the end of the book after Ruth has found some success you become subjected to page after page of how great Ruth (aka Fanny) is. There are four (!) pages where "Ruth" visits a phrenologists and he explains, based on his Poor Ruth. She, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. But she's tough and determined and driven and soon enough things go Ruth's way. Hooray! I do have one issue with this book though. Apparently, Ruth Hall's story closely parallels her author's--Fanny Fern. So when you get to the end of the book after Ruth has found some success you become subjected to page after page of how great Ruth (aka Fanny) is. There are four (!) pages where "Ruth" visits a phrenologists and he explains, based on his feeling of her head or whatever it is a phrenologists does or did, how great she is. It comes off and self-indulgent and it turned me off to Fanny Fern which subsequently turned me off to Ruth Hall. Plus, it took me forever to distinguish which one (Ruth or Fanny) was the character and which one was the author--both names have a similar ring.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Ruth Hall can be rather sentimental at times if one looks at it from our 21st century eyes. I gave it four stars because it is a great example of American Victorian "women's" literature. Deserves to be read for the experience of reading a Victorian popular novel. I fear, however, that we, comfortably seated in our reading chairs nearly 150 years into the future, will find it easier to toss it aside as "sappy" and "emotional" rather than to bravely admit to enjoyinig it as the simple little gem t Ruth Hall can be rather sentimental at times if one looks at it from our 21st century eyes. I gave it four stars because it is a great example of American Victorian "women's" literature. Deserves to be read for the experience of reading a Victorian popular novel. I fear, however, that we, comfortably seated in our reading chairs nearly 150 years into the future, will find it easier to toss it aside as "sappy" and "emotional" rather than to bravely admit to enjoyinig it as the simple little gem that it is.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    This was a drag to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    a.rose

    i was pleasantly surprised by this book! it's definitely very sad but there's some really hilarious lines and overall it's well-written and has some good morals. i hate hyacinth w a burning passion though i was pleasantly surprised by this book! it's definitely very sad but there's some really hilarious lines and overall it's well-written and has some good morals. i hate hyacinth w a burning passion though

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenn McCollum Avery

    Ruth Hall is, as its author Fanny Fern is careful to note, a "continuous story" rather than a novel. It is a work marked by a few covert postmodern gestures such as its vignette style, fragmented narrative, and its layers of subjectivity. At its core Ruth Hall takes up the popular nineteenth-century question of female authorship. Fern, like Marie Corelli in novels such as The Sorrow of Satan or The Murder of Delicia, manifests a literary protagonist who much resembles herself. Yet unlike Corelli Ruth Hall is, as its author Fanny Fern is careful to note, a "continuous story" rather than a novel. It is a work marked by a few covert postmodern gestures such as its vignette style, fragmented narrative, and its layers of subjectivity. At its core Ruth Hall takes up the popular nineteenth-century question of female authorship. Fern, like Marie Corelli in novels such as The Sorrow of Satan or The Murder of Delicia, manifests a literary protagonist who much resembles herself. Yet unlike Corelli whose reflective authoresses strive to suture together female literacy with morality, Fern brings together women's writing and economics. The "domestic tale" is steeped in matters that extend beyond the usual domestic realm as Hall is forced, after the death of her doting husband, to provide a liveable environment for her two daughters in the aftermath of rejection from her rich relatives. Although Fern's marriage of writing and economy stood out as noteworthy what seemed most interesting for me was the thread of medicine and its connection to women's writing. Like Madame Bovary in Flaubert's classic tale, Hall is thrown with marriage into a world governed, to some degree, by medical discourse. "The doctor," Hall's father-in-law is, like Charles Bovary, a mediocre physician. His feeble attempts to govern the Hall home lead to his son and daughter eventually relocating, escaping the doctor's negligence and "Mis. Hall's" jealousy and frugality. Moving away from the doctor's home does not, however, put an end to the Hall's interaction with the medical world. In fact, her exposure increases when Daisy, Halls's first daughter, becomes deathly ill and eventually dies when "the doctor" is reluctant to attend to her. The death of Harry, Hall's husband, brings another episode that is framed by the medical field. Again, traditional medicine fails and leaves Hall with overwhelming, nearly insurmountable, feelings of loss. Hall is forced to strike out on her own after these two failures of traditional medicine leave her and her living daughters starving. She takes up residence at a boarding house governed by Mrs. Waters where she is thrown into a different kind of medical discourse. Waters proclaims herself to be a "physician -- none the less for being female." Her room is lined with "boxes of brown-bread-looking pills" and bottles with "labels that would have puzzled the most erudite M.D. who ever received a diploma." Waters is quick to wait on Hall in her poverty-stricken sicknesses but Hall refuses her services; "if there was anything Ruth was afraid of, it was Mrs. Waters's style of woman." Afraid of Waters's brand of medicine Hall goes on suffering until she meets one of Waters's other borders, Mr. Bond. Bond is, like Waters, a dabbler in medicine. Hall hears the whir-whir-whir coming from his room and is curious about its origin until he offers to heal her sick daughter with "homeopathy," with which he "always treats" himself and has a "happy supply" always with him. He has had the "pleasure of relieving others in emergencies." Bond has an air of "goodness and sincerity" that influences Hall to accept his help where she would not consider Waters's offers. Hall goes on to admire Bond as her "senior" who is so much like what she would want her own father to be. Bond's medicine is the only medicine in the novel that actually cures its patient. Developing a relationship with him leads Hall to renew her trust in people and encourages her to reach out to Mr. Walter, a publisher who recognizes her writing talent and makes her an offer in a more humane position with good pay. Walter is not blind to Hall's talents yet he, too, must submerge her into medical discourse before he will proceed with his plans to increase her fame and fortune. Upon meeting Hall he asks, "Have you ever submitted your head to a phrenological examination?" She admits that she has no faith in this "science," to which Walter laughs and hires a professor to do an in-depth analysis of the shape of Hall's head. The chapter in which the professor conducts this analysis is the longest chapter of the book. Fern goes into great detail about the characteristics that phrenology reveals about Hall's character: ultimately, she is a genius. Feeling affirmed and confident, Walter undertakes raising Hall up from her drudgery. Upon meeting her youngest daughter, who is much like Hall, Walter insists that she, too, should have her head examined. The movement from traditional medicine (which is portrayed as quackery at its worst) to the outrageous branch of "female" medicine, to phrenology struck me as interesting. Hall is so dredged in medical discourse that I found it problematic that phrenology -- of all medical branches -- is finally the outlet through which the truth is made evident. It is, in fact, the tool that reveals the value of female authorship. It is, too, the backbone of the "domestic tale."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Oh what a maddening books. There’s a lovely story, drawn from the author’s own experiences, a story with something to say, and at times it’s wonderful, but there are too many times when it is spoiled by the author pushing her point, her side of the story, a little too hard. Of course I should make some allowance for the fact that Fanny Fern’s ‘Present Time’ was in America in the middle of the 19th century, but that isn’t quite enough. Fortunately I could see the heart of the story, and I am glad t Oh what a maddening books. There’s a lovely story, drawn from the author’s own experiences, a story with something to say, and at times it’s wonderful, but there are too many times when it is spoiled by the author pushing her point, her side of the story, a little too hard. Of course I should make some allowance for the fact that Fanny Fern’s ‘Present Time’ was in America in the middle of the 19th century, but that isn’t quite enough. Fortunately I could see the heart of the story, and I am glad that I read it. It begins beautifully, with Ruth, our heroine, looking out at the night sky on the eve of her wedding. Her mother had died when she was very young and her father, a man who was both wealthy and parsimonious, had sent her away to boarding school. He would be glad to have his daughter off his hands. And she was happy, because she was in love and the future seemed full of promise. The story is told in a series of vignettes, looking at Ruth through many different pairs of eyes. It’s very effective. Ruth and Harry are blissfully happy together. He works hard, he is very successful, and they move up in the world. They have just one problem: his mother. She thinks that Ruth is flighty. She thinks that she is a spendthrift. She thinks that she lets her children run wild. She can’t – or won’t – accept that the young couple have struck out on their own, and chosen how they want to live. For the moment. Ruth’s world came crashing down when Harry was taken ill and died. She was nearly destitute, and neither her father nor her in-laws were prepared to help. They disagreed about much, but on one thing they were agreed – Ruth had made her bed and she must lie in it! And so Ruth moved to a cheap boarding house, where she struggled to support her daughters, struggled to keep going as wealthier friends snubbed her. Ruth fell so low that she had to let one of her daughters to her mother-in law, to be brought up her way, because he just couldn’t support them all. It was then that Ruth hit on the idea of becoming a newspaper columnist. She wrote late into the night, as her younger daughter, and she sent samples of her work to her brother, a successful publisher. He sent them back with a note saying that she had no talent, and that if she persisted in trying to get into print she would embarrass them both. But Ruth did persist. She persuaded an editor to hire her, and her column – written under a pseudonym – was a huge hit. Ruth learned on her feet; she became a canny businesswoman, she found a publisher who believed in her and supported her, she brought her family back together, and she made all of those who had doubted her, snubbed her, criticised her, eat their words. I loved the arc of the story: the happy marriage, the tragic loss, the struggle, the triumph against the odds. I loved the emotions that Ruth’s story provoked. And some of the vignettes were quite lovely. But I couldn’t quite believe that the tired woman, plagued by terrible headaches became so competent quite so quickly. I know that grief can do terrible things, I know that mother love is so very powerful, I know that one small success can be a springboard, but a little more subtlety really would have made this a much better story. I know that this is an autobiographical work, but I couldn’t help feeling that it lacked maturity, and a willingness to see different points of view. The author could see no fault in Ruth – and she spent far too much time in the later part of the book having all and sundry singing her praises – and she could find no understanding for the ‘villains’ in her life. Her mother in-law may have been a horror, but she turned into too much of a monster. Few things in life are as black and white as this story paints them. But not many novels from the middle of the 19th century allowed a woman to triumph over adversity by her own efforts, and to be standing alone on her own two feet on the end. That was lovely to see – especially with the knowledge that this was a roman a clef – the story was very readable, and so I’m glad that I read it, even though I was infuriated by it at times.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Ruth Hall, a young, sensitive girl with an unfeeling father and a self-obsessed brother, finds love and marries into another family. Her husband treats her well but her in-laws are cold to her, 'like two scathed trees, dry, harsh, and uninviting'. As Ruth grows into womanhood, her fortunes are shattered by the death of her husband. Her father and brother abandon her, her in-laws attempt to take her children from her, and left in a state of poverty she turns to writing as a way out. Fanny Fern's wi Ruth Hall, a young, sensitive girl with an unfeeling father and a self-obsessed brother, finds love and marries into another family. Her husband treats her well but her in-laws are cold to her, 'like two scathed trees, dry, harsh, and uninviting'. As Ruth grows into womanhood, her fortunes are shattered by the death of her husband. Her father and brother abandon her, her in-laws attempt to take her children from her, and left in a state of poverty she turns to writing as a way out. Fanny Fern's wikipedia page makes her sound really interesting. A self-made woman, a proto-feminist, an early supporter of Walt Whitman. Ruth Hall is highly biographical, so I was expecting a strong heroine to emerge. Far from it. Ruth is so characterless in her misfortune, her relatives and would-be editors so petty and puny in their callousness that there is never a hint of any real drama, despite the death and destitution that plagues Ruth throughout. It's not badly written at all, though mostly unengaging, yet Fern's penchant for airy and insubstantial poetic proclamations tended to irritate more than it pleases (e.g. 'her little bark breasted the billows, now rising high on the topmost wave, now merged in the shadows, but still steering with straining sides, and a heart of oak, for the nearing port of Independence.') Worst of all though is the puffed-up vanity of the last third of the book, her rampant conceit hardly veiled as the author has all manor of sources heap praise after praise on her surrogate - editors called her a 'genius', various correspondences eulogizing her, and a phrenologist's report concluding that she 'made of finer clay than most of us.' I am happy that Fanny Fern stuck it to her unfeeling family and all those greedy editors, but on this evidence she must have been insufferably full of herself. Tedious, triflingly spiteful, self-satisfied rubbish.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Tubrett

    *Read this for University* I want to add this book onto my shelves because I really enjoyed it. Not because it was necessarily a GREAT piece of writing, but because it is filled with fire. I would say this book is semi-autobiographical, because it contains a bit of a jumble of stories from Fern’s life, with the character’s being based on real people. That truth in this book is what is so astonishing to me. How these events truly occurred and how Fern had to deal with them all. Back to the fire I m *Read this for University* I want to add this book onto my shelves because I really enjoyed it. Not because it was necessarily a GREAT piece of writing, but because it is filled with fire. I would say this book is semi-autobiographical, because it contains a bit of a jumble of stories from Fern’s life, with the character’s being based on real people. That truth in this book is what is so astonishing to me. How these events truly occurred and how Fern had to deal with them all. Back to the fire I mentioned earlier: you can really hear the frustration and anger in the character Ruth as she faces obstacles and oppressive situations. Ruth never loses it on people, she never fully expresses her anger, but instead uses wit and satire to deal with her oppressors. This allows the reader to understand themselves just how angry Ruth is throughout her struggles not just as a woman, but more importantly, as a woman writer. The story itself does not flow from one scene to the next, but it rather a collection of some of Fern’s memories/experiences. As a result, the novel is not eloquently written, but it shows Fern as a newbie to the world of novels. I like that Ruth Hall is not perfect. I think perfection is not the point of this novel. It proves that you don’t have to be a perfect writer and have a perfectly constructed novel to be an author. Ruth Hall also illustrates that the CONTENT of the novel is what matters, which I believe is a catalyst to women’s voices being heard, and women writers simply being known and appreciated in America.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Ruth Hall is my favorite of "Fanny Fern's" books, and Belasco has done an excellent job of editing it. Yes, the book is mawkish and uber-sentimental, but underneath is a lava flow of anger. To some extent, the book is autobiographical, though Ruth is a bit of a Mary-Sue: pure, sweet-tempered, put-upon, and a genius. She's misunderstood by the conventional people around her. But there's a bite here, too. Hypocrites are savaged, and Fern makes it clear how difficult it was for a woman to survive in Ruth Hall is my favorite of "Fanny Fern's" books, and Belasco has done an excellent job of editing it. Yes, the book is mawkish and uber-sentimental, but underneath is a lava flow of anger. To some extent, the book is autobiographical, though Ruth is a bit of a Mary-Sue: pure, sweet-tempered, put-upon, and a genius. She's misunderstood by the conventional people around her. But there's a bite here, too. Hypocrites are savaged, and Fern makes it clear how difficult it was for a woman to survive in 19th-century America--especially a widow with children. In one scene, Ruth sympathizes with the prostitutes she can see from her window. Her children go hungry as she attempts to get the few jobs available to women at the time; Fern contrasts Ruth's desperation with the smug satisfaction of the men in her life, who refuse to help her. Probably because Fern was an essayist, the novel is a series of scenes. It works. The strung-together scenes feel more like real life than a more cohesive novel would have. There are parts that are difficult to take. A black character is a caricature. Good characters are too good to be real; bad characters are dastardly to the bone. Fern wasn't actually that great a novelist. But there's a real satisfaction in watching Ruth overcome her obstacles; she works hard and earns her triumph. And that anger bubbling up through Fern's sentimentality is refreshing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I enjoyed this book. The story begins very happily which is unusual so you know something bad will happen to Ruth. You really want Ruth to succeed because everyone is against her, and her in laws and brother are some of the most annoying characters i have ever read; they were so against Ruth, and it was very satisfying when she one out in the end. The interesting thing is Ruth only becomes a writer out of necessity. She has no desire to beat the literary marketplace as a woman, that is not her g I enjoyed this book. The story begins very happily which is unusual so you know something bad will happen to Ruth. You really want Ruth to succeed because everyone is against her, and her in laws and brother are some of the most annoying characters i have ever read; they were so against Ruth, and it was very satisfying when she one out in the end. The interesting thing is Ruth only becomes a writer out of necessity. She has no desire to beat the literary marketplace as a woman, that is not her goal, she only wants to be able to provide for herself and her family. It's interesting because Ruth does succeed, but she is in no way a feminist and someone wanting to change things for women. I did have a issue with the way the story is told. The chapters are very short, so it is a very quick read, and it mainly consists of conversations. There are no details about the setting or about the events. Because of this i felt like the story was lacking and i couldn't connect as well to it. However, it is a very interesting story considering it is loosely based off of the author herself and the events in her life, and i think some of things that happen to Ruth Franny may have wanted to happen to her or she would have wished she had done the things Ruth had done.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    Ruth Hall is most definitely Fanny Fern's life, and I for one wished that would've been laced a bit better behind the lines. Especially with all the sections of characters talking for length about how great Hall is. Now, Fern can really pull off doubletalking, with some sentences relating to theme, character development, and plot depending on how they're read and what workplay you accept. I enjoyed aspects of the setting, the filthy antagonists, and the trials and tribulations for the most part. Ruth Hall is most definitely Fanny Fern's life, and I for one wished that would've been laced a bit better behind the lines. Especially with all the sections of characters talking for length about how great Hall is. Now, Fern can really pull off doubletalking, with some sentences relating to theme, character development, and plot depending on how they're read and what workplay you accept. I enjoyed aspects of the setting, the filthy antagonists, and the trials and tribulations for the most part. But also it petered on for too long, didn't make me feel much, and lacked a character I could really tie myself too. So yeah, 6/10 or something like it. Now I'm being told to write more of my thoughts down for class, so I will: some parts really confused me, like the Skiddy side-plot, and there were chapters that came and went that I kind of glossed over. Even when I tried to go over them they required so much context from earlier, also less-coherent sections, that once I was lost I stayed lost. The end was interesting, I won't go into specifics but the way old characters saw Ruth in a new light—or didn't—was a nice twist.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    The stars aren't letting me give this a rating, but I would give it 5 stars if I could. The book club I attend chose this for the month of August and I loved it. I took a lot of American humanities and literature classes in college and I wonder why we never read this. The author, Fanny Fern (a pseudonym) was the first paid female columnist in America, and was at one time the highest paid columnist during her time. I love stories with strong female character and I love stories written by strong wo The stars aren't letting me give this a rating, but I would give it 5 stars if I could. The book club I attend chose this for the month of August and I loved it. I took a lot of American humanities and literature classes in college and I wonder why we never read this. The author, Fanny Fern (a pseudonym) was the first paid female columnist in America, and was at one time the highest paid columnist during her time. I love stories with strong female character and I love stories written by strong women. This has both. The language is mid-nineteenth century English, which I also enjoy. I always wish that I knew that many words and could pull them out in conversations like the characters do. No one would understand me, but even if I could just think with that much vocabulary would probably make my thought much more interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    She does her work with jump cuts and accounts for Ruth Hall's character by representing what other people say about her for the most part. She critiques the cult of true womanhood from within it. She is also able to show hypocrisy and way public opinion and reputation were made at the time. The use of a pseudonym is intriguing and I feel like I am outing her to call her by her real name. Upon her death she was Sarah Payson Willis Parton. Her first husband died and she divorced her second husband She does her work with jump cuts and accounts for Ruth Hall's character by representing what other people say about her for the most part. She critiques the cult of true womanhood from within it. She is also able to show hypocrisy and way public opinion and reputation were made at the time. The use of a pseudonym is intriguing and I feel like I am outing her to call her by her real name. Upon her death she was Sarah Payson Willis Parton. Her first husband died and she divorced her second husband because he was dull and abusive. She used a pre-nup to protect her assets in her third marriage. Actually Parton's best work was as a satirist and columnist. After Harriet Beecher Stowe, she was the most successful or highest earning author in the antebellum USA. What I like best about her work and this novel is that Ruth Hall, Fanny Fern, or Sarah Parton remind me of my mom.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was assigned to me in my 19th century American women writers course. It's fiction, but based on true facts about Fanny Fern's life. Ruth Hall, the protagonist, is a happily married woman and mother to two sweet girls. When her husband dies unexpectedly young, she's forced into poverty as she takes menial jobs to pay her bills and support her two children. Her extended family is unsupportive and refuses to help financially. Events take a drastic turn when Ruth discovers her writing abilities This was assigned to me in my 19th century American women writers course. It's fiction, but based on true facts about Fanny Fern's life. Ruth Hall, the protagonist, is a happily married woman and mother to two sweet girls. When her husband dies unexpectedly young, she's forced into poverty as she takes menial jobs to pay her bills and support her two children. Her extended family is unsupportive and refuses to help financially. Events take a drastic turn when Ruth discovers her writing abilities and becomes an extremely successful author. Structurally, the book is broken down into small chapters and multiple points of view, all relating to Ruth's climb to success. I liked the plot, but disliked how the events were a bit choppy at first. It definitely picked up toward the last half of the novel.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Phew. I am so glad that I am done with this. This is a biography about Sarah Payson Willis (pseudonym Fanny Fern) writen in the form of fiction. A couple of things that I love her for include stealing pickles at seminary school, carving her initials on desks, being aggressive in that time period, wearing low-cut dresses, cross-dressing for a period of her lifetime and praising the sexual passages in Leaves of Grass. When read without knowledge of the person the book may come off a bit dull but n Phew. I am so glad that I am done with this. This is a biography about Sarah Payson Willis (pseudonym Fanny Fern) writen in the form of fiction. A couple of things that I love her for include stealing pickles at seminary school, carving her initials on desks, being aggressive in that time period, wearing low-cut dresses, cross-dressing for a period of her lifetime and praising the sexual passages in Leaves of Grass. When read without knowledge of the person the book may come off a bit dull but not that she writes in accordance with satire in order to appeal to a larger audience while retaining themes calling for social change. A quick read if you have to write a research paper on feminism/ male priveledge. Now, off to write a research paper!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Rating: 3.8 I liked the minimalism of Ruth Hall (the fact that you got the most essential details) as well as the montage/snapshot style. I thought it really worked for it, and that's why it was such a page turner for me. However...It's one depressing thing after another to the point where I couldn't be too much in love with this book, as I almost dreaded picking it up each time. It's not bad...just a bit of a soul-crusher and a relentless one at that, even toward the very end. I think that combi Rating: 3.8 I liked the minimalism of Ruth Hall (the fact that you got the most essential details) as well as the montage/snapshot style. I thought it really worked for it, and that's why it was such a page turner for me. However...It's one depressing thing after another to the point where I couldn't be too much in love with this book, as I almost dreaded picking it up each time. It's not bad...just a bit of a soul-crusher and a relentless one at that, even toward the very end. I think that combined with mostly static characters that you never get to know too much in-depth is where it lost me. I think I put too many expectations with this book, considering I wanted it to be amazing. As it is, it's fine on its own, just a bit simpler than I thought it'd be.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ramie Johnson

    An obscure book, popular in its day but fallen out of favor in later years, that has seen a revival of interest in today’s scholarship. I was assigned to read this for an American Lit class and was surprised to learn that Fanny Fern outsold and outshone many of her contemporaries, like Hawthorne and Irving. I love the format and the content. This book tells a personal story that inspired so many emotions in me. I felt rage, frustration, joy, heart-broken, and many more emotions. In the end, I fe An obscure book, popular in its day but fallen out of favor in later years, that has seen a revival of interest in today’s scholarship. I was assigned to read this for an American Lit class and was surprised to learn that Fanny Fern outsold and outshone many of her contemporaries, like Hawthorne and Irving. I love the format and the content. This book tells a personal story that inspired so many emotions in me. I felt rage, frustration, joy, heart-broken, and many more emotions. In the end, I felt vindicated, as if I were Ruth Hall myself. I fell in love with Ruth and her children, and I hated her enemies with a weakness of character that Ruth never knew. If you’re reading this, read this book. The time spent between these pages is well worth the effort.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Ruth Hall is one of those books that unabashedly allows its characters to say what most people only think. Feeble Ruth, bears the brunt of it all from father to brother, to mother-in-law, to employer, to stranger. It all works out for Ruth though doesn’t it? She gets all the fame, all the money, and all the glory, while ironically those who coveted their money so dear, and kept it so far from Ruth, can now only wallow in their remorse. Could we expect anything else? There was no other way for Fe Ruth Hall is one of those books that unabashedly allows its characters to say what most people only think. Feeble Ruth, bears the brunt of it all from father to brother, to mother-in-law, to employer, to stranger. It all works out for Ruth though doesn’t it? She gets all the fame, all the money, and all the glory, while ironically those who coveted their money so dear, and kept it so far from Ruth, can now only wallow in their remorse. Could we expect anything else? There was no other way for Fern to write the story. Without all the insults there was no sad tale to tell of. Ruth’s family would have abandoned her, but the readers would not then feel all the scorn of a woman.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    I'm giving it only 3 stars simply because this is one of the most depressing books that I've ever read. Never before have I encountered a book where I couldn't stand so many of the characters, in this case the horrible in - laws, the cruel and pathetic Hyacinth and his father and also Ruth's cousins. The plight of Ruth was immensely moving and I daresay a number of modern-day women could relate to it. I finished the book in two days simply because I was eager to reach the end with hopes that thi I'm giving it only 3 stars simply because this is one of the most depressing books that I've ever read. Never before have I encountered a book where I couldn't stand so many of the characters, in this case the horrible in - laws, the cruel and pathetic Hyacinth and his father and also Ruth's cousins. The plight of Ruth was immensely moving and I daresay a number of modern-day women could relate to it. I finished the book in two days simply because I was eager to reach the end with hopes that things would turn up better. Overall I think it's a great book as it highlights various issues such as justice and love within families.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Hartley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This novel was so so far ahead of its time. It's one of the few first wave feminist novels that I've been able to relate to, or agree with parts of the message contained within it. Ruth Hall is a young widower, who has also lost her eldest child. Grief has hit her hard both physically and emotionally. With both her own family and her husbands' casting her aside financially, Ruth must learn to find a way to support both herself and her two remaining children. Eventually she turns to writing, and This novel was so so far ahead of its time. It's one of the few first wave feminist novels that I've been able to relate to, or agree with parts of the message contained within it. Ruth Hall is a young widower, who has also lost her eldest child. Grief has hit her hard both physically and emotionally. With both her own family and her husbands' casting her aside financially, Ruth must learn to find a way to support both herself and her two remaining children. Eventually she turns to writing, and starts to creep out of poverty. I found this such a 'feel good' novel and would highly recommend to those interested in 18th-century fiction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie LaFranzo

    This is a book that I read for my writing class this semester. It was interesting to talk about and honestly I probably wouldn't like it at all if we didn't dissect it in class. It was an interesting story in general to read but really deeply thinking about was such a great way to read it that made me think more deeply about it. This book is about a woman who goes through a journey of finding out that she is more than a wife and a mother. It's her struggle through life told through shorter snipp This is a book that I read for my writing class this semester. It was interesting to talk about and honestly I probably wouldn't like it at all if we didn't dissect it in class. It was an interesting story in general to read but really deeply thinking about was such a great way to read it that made me think more deeply about it. This book is about a woman who goes through a journey of finding out that she is more than a wife and a mother. It's her struggle through life told through shorter snippets life a newspaper article because that is what the author originally wrote. It is also semi-autobiographical.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I found this book at a "used book" store, and became enthralled immediately with this easy-reading, engaging novel. I don't usually say that about books written in the mid-1800s. The story is semi-autobiographical about a woman's life, with her beloved husband, and then, as a widow trying to achieve financial independence as a result of her family's lack of support. The book transports you to her time - for those who don't think they can read classic literature, give this a try. I highly recomme I found this book at a "used book" store, and became enthralled immediately with this easy-reading, engaging novel. I don't usually say that about books written in the mid-1800s. The story is semi-autobiographical about a woman's life, with her beloved husband, and then, as a widow trying to achieve financial independence as a result of her family's lack of support. The book transports you to her time - for those who don't think they can read classic literature, give this a try. I highly recommend it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim Adamache

    Read this for a graduate seminar on American popular culture. There are some sad and despicable characters in this book, but this is a very enlightening look at antebellum America and the attitudes of the emerging middle class struggling so hard to separate themselves from the working class from which they recently were part of. That she may have exaggerated over the treatment she received from her family is probable, however, that just emphasizes the immense inequalities and selfishness that ex Read this for a graduate seminar on American popular culture. There are some sad and despicable characters in this book, but this is a very enlightening look at antebellum America and the attitudes of the emerging middle class struggling so hard to separate themselves from the working class from which they recently were part of. That she may have exaggerated over the treatment she received from her family is probable, however, that just emphasizes the immense inequalities and selfishness that existed then. Look to the peripheral characters and you will learn much about the time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Haley Petcher

    I read this book for a class called History of American Authorship, and when you read it with female authorship on the mind, the book (or at least the last third) is pretty interesting. Otherwise, it's not my favorite. The first two thirds are closer to the sentimentalism side. So if you're interesting in that type of work, you might enjoy it. Fanny Fern's newspaper articles take a very different tone from the book and are actually pretty funny. Definitely check those out! *Read for grad school ( I read this book for a class called History of American Authorship, and when you read it with female authorship on the mind, the book (or at least the last third) is pretty interesting. Otherwise, it's not my favorite. The first two thirds are closer to the sentimentalism side. So if you're interesting in that type of work, you might enjoy it. Fanny Fern's newspaper articles take a very different tone from the book and are actually pretty funny. Definitely check those out! *Read for grad school (Authorship)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.