Since this is a big year to celebrate—and next year will be even bigger—it’s no surprise that books on the fight for the female vote are popping up like weeds in a garden, but that’s a good thing.
Elaine Weiss’s The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Viking) looks like the one I’ll read first. I’m excited about this book because it’s reported to be suspenseful, and as a mystery writer and fan, I know a gripping tale keeps those pages turning.
The Woman’s Hour recounts the tense debate in the Tennessee legislature, the pro-suffrage camp’s last hope for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment that had been approved by both houses of Congress in 1919. The suffragists and their supporters needed two-thirds of the 48 states to vote “aye,” and they’d already dismissed Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia and Maryland as hopeless.
According to an article in The New Yorker, Weiss paces her story so well, detailing twists and turns, party defections, fabricated emergencies, and motherly advice, that the reader almost forgets the Nineteenth Amendment was going to be ratified. Still, it’s not just a retelling of the machinations that led to the final decision. The way Weiss presents the ideas of the suffragists and those who opposed them is described as “thrilling.” Stephen Spielberg was so impressed he bought the rights to the book for a production by Amblin Television.