Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
By Jill Lepore
Why this book?
Book of Ages brings to life a woman I didn’t know existed. It excavates the story of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, using her letters and the “Book of Ages” she kept, along with research into child-bearing, marriage, and education for women in the 1700s. Jane Franklin’s life was hard, and her writing was halting, unlike her brother’s polished prose. But still, her sentences are full of personality.
She wrote about kissing her children’s injuries because “The Litle Rogues all want to be Pityed by them that Loves them” and scolded Benjamin for his infrequent letters: “I See you do not forgit me tho I have so Long mourned the want of a line for your own hand to convince me of it.” Lepore immerses us in a whole busy world of Colonial America, one that both features quiet pleasures and shows the stark difference in opportunity available to women and men, even from the same family.
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