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They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades

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Throughout history there have been women, endowed with curiosity and abundant spirit, who stepped out of the cave, cast off the shackles of expectation, and struck out for new territory. In this ode to bold, brash, and sometimes just plain dangerous women, Barbara Holland reanimates those rebels who defied convention and challenged authority on a truly grand scale: they tr Throughout history there have been women, endowed with curiosity and abundant spirit, who stepped out of the cave, cast off the shackles of expectation, and struck out for new territory. In this ode to bold, brash, and sometimes just plain dangerous women, Barbara Holland reanimates those rebels who defied convention and challenged authority on a truly grand scale: they traveled the world, commanded pirate ships, spied on the enemy, established foreign countries, scaled 19,000-foot passes, and lobbied to change the Constitution. Some were merry and flamboyant; others depressive and solitary. Some dressed up as men; others cherished their Victorian gowns. Many were ambivalent or absentminded mothers. But every one of them was fearless, eccentric, and fiercely independent. Barbara Holland evokes their energy in this unconventional book that will acquaint you with the likes of Grace O’Malley, a blazing terror of the Irish seas in the 1500s, and surprise you with a fresh perspective on legends like Bonnie Parker of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame. With wit, wisdom, and irreverent flair, They Went Whistling makes a compelling case for the virtue of getting into trouble.


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Throughout history there have been women, endowed with curiosity and abundant spirit, who stepped out of the cave, cast off the shackles of expectation, and struck out for new territory. In this ode to bold, brash, and sometimes just plain dangerous women, Barbara Holland reanimates those rebels who defied convention and challenged authority on a truly grand scale: they tr Throughout history there have been women, endowed with curiosity and abundant spirit, who stepped out of the cave, cast off the shackles of expectation, and struck out for new territory. In this ode to bold, brash, and sometimes just plain dangerous women, Barbara Holland reanimates those rebels who defied convention and challenged authority on a truly grand scale: they traveled the world, commanded pirate ships, spied on the enemy, established foreign countries, scaled 19,000-foot passes, and lobbied to change the Constitution. Some were merry and flamboyant; others depressive and solitary. Some dressed up as men; others cherished their Victorian gowns. Many were ambivalent or absentminded mothers. But every one of them was fearless, eccentric, and fiercely independent. Barbara Holland evokes their energy in this unconventional book that will acquaint you with the likes of Grace O’Malley, a blazing terror of the Irish seas in the 1500s, and surprise you with a fresh perspective on legends like Bonnie Parker of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame. With wit, wisdom, and irreverent flair, They Went Whistling makes a compelling case for the virtue of getting into trouble.

30 review for They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Wyss

    The stories related by Holland are interesting. However, there are a few problems with the book. First, only two of the women whom she profiles in detail are women of color. All of her other detailed profiles are of women of European or US American origin. The reader is left to believe that essentially no women from the non-Western world and virtually no women of color rejected societal norms and rebelled. Or if they did, they're worth only passing mention. Only a cursory look at feminist or wom The stories related by Holland are interesting. However, there are a few problems with the book. First, only two of the women whom she profiles in detail are women of color. All of her other detailed profiles are of women of European or US American origin. The reader is left to believe that essentially no women from the non-Western world and virtually no women of color rejected societal norms and rebelled. Or if they did, they're worth only passing mention. Only a cursory look at feminist or women's history belies this notion. Second, Holland makes no mention of lesbianism (even when profiling Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) and seems clueless as to the possibility that some of the "women" whom she profiles would likely have fit more easily under the label "transgender". (She does, however, make passing and demeaning reference to a transsexual travel writer, denying this woman her womanhood because she is trans.) Third, I'm also not sure exactly what Holland thinks of the traditional (white, middle class) division of labor between men and women. The basis for her definition of rebellion rests on women who defied the "separate spheres" model of gendered life. This, of course, leaves many women of color out (perhaps why there are so few in her book). And she avoids taking a stand on whether this division of labor is purely biological or is social as well. She puts the blame for women's restriction to the home and childrearing on their biological capabilities and what she seems to assume are innate emotional urges -- instead of placing the blame on men's sexism/misogyny and refusal to engage in "demeaning" work around the home and with children. I don't know if Holland claims to be a feminist. But based on certain aspects of this book, i would doubt that she would adopt that label for herself. A shame, because a book like this written from an expressly feminist angle could truly increase our knowledge of rebellious women throughout history and throughout the world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Frrobins

    I had several issues with this book. Especially towards the end, I wasn't sure if Holland was celebrating the lives of these women or putting them down. I also nearly didn't make it through the introduction, which was heavy on evolutionary psychology tropes and drove home the debunked idea that throughout history most women have sat idly by at home while a few courageous ones broke the norms. Holland labels her focus as women who do not play by societies' rules, which is fine, however, she in no I had several issues with this book. Especially towards the end, I wasn't sure if Holland was celebrating the lives of these women or putting them down. I also nearly didn't make it through the introduction, which was heavy on evolutionary psychology tropes and drove home the debunked idea that throughout history most women have sat idly by at home while a few courageous ones broke the norms. Holland labels her focus as women who do not play by societies' rules, which is fine, however, she in no way acknowledges that society changes from place to place and through time. She sets out a view that throughout world history, women have stayed at home and raised kids and done nothing more. Not only does this ignore that not every society is set up this way and that in societies women have had opportunities to be things other than (or in addition to) mothers that are socially sanctioned, but it is very dismissive of most women and seems to laud only those who lived outside of societies rules. Except when she doesn't. Really, at times I wasn't sure if she was genuinely trying to applaud women and their accomplishments or kick them down while appearing to lift them up. Her history was shoddy at several points. In the introduction she references The Little Engine that Could as being male to drive home a point about literature, however, the Little Engine That Could was female! Her snippet about Amelia Earhart was grossly inaccurate, chalking Amelia's success to her husband, saying Amelia wasn't interested in sex when Amelia married him only on the condition that she be allowed to sleep with other men (and she did sleep with other men after she married!), and painting the idea that the marriage was of no concern to Amelia who only cared about getting ahead, when Amelia was already an established pilot when she got married and the decision to get married was an agonizing one for her! In other words, I'd take the information in a lot of these biographies with a grain of salt. In covering Joan of Arc she strangely spent a lot of time trying to gauge the validity of her visions (was she really a mystic? or was she insane?) and it just seemed outside the domain of a history and to detract from Joan's achievements. Then, in chronicling stories of women who dressed as men, at times she seemed to have covered transgendered men, but never discusses the possibility that they might have been transgendered. The vast majority of the women she chronicled were white and European. She never mentioned Sacagawea in her chapter on Wayfarers. No Harriet Tubman on rebels or outlaws. That she doesn't consider how a woman's place changes through location and time was very evident in her chapter on Seekers, where she says most women don't have the time to devote to religious life because they have to get married. Yet in early Christian societies, when people believed the second coming was imminent, it was believed to be better to NOT get married and remain celibate and devote oneself to a religious life! Marriage was considered the lesser of two evils as sex within marriage was better than sex outside of marriage, but it was the recourse only if you were too weak to commit to religious life! Nunneries was safehavens for women like Heloise (not mentioned) who were smart and wanted more than a traditional married life would provide, and it was socially acceptable to do it (having an affair with Abelard, not so much). And considering how US and European centric this was, Holland never mentions the Shakers, founded by women, who formed a communal society where there was equality between the sexes while following a religious life. Granted, these women could hardly live outside the bounds of society if it was accepted by society, but Holland NEVER acknowledges that what is an acceptable place for women in society changes from place to place and time to time. And her chapter on radicals such as Susan B. Anthony, Mother Jones and Emma Goldman was just down right insulting. A few quotes: "For the first time--and the last--women felt they could make a major difference in the ways of the world, and it went to their heads. For the most part they were wrong, as we can see now, and the world went on much as it always had, but they had a blazing fine time trying." OK, so in Susan B. Anthony's day, people were legally enslaved, women could not vote, hold property, would lose custody rights of her children if she tried to leave her husband, etc, and now slavery is illegal in the US, women can vote, have held office, and we can own property, get divorces, have custody of our children, etc, but of course, Susan B. Anthony didn't change the world according to Holland, and I'm sure Anthony had a blast going to jail, being demeaned and insulted while demanding rights for her and others. While society didn't change fast, but because of Susan B. Anthony, Mother Jones, Sojourner Truth (another woman Holland does not deem fit to mention), Jane Addams (also missing) and many others, the world did change! Women have more opportunities now than they did in Anthony's day because of women like Anthony! Then there's this: "The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin in the 1970s was rejected by the public, ostensibly because it was flimsy and easily spent as a quarter but perhaps really because Anthony looked so daunting nobody wanted her in their pockets...We know these women were brave and worthy, doing what they did not for themselves but for strangers, current and future; they were insulted and jeered at and ostracized and often jail, but the soldiered on. Just the same, the look unlovable." So after devaluing the radicals for not appearing pretty in old photographs, she laments how the radical women are gone. Perhaps because this was written in 2001 before the new Civil Rights movement started, but that whole sentiment seems incredibly naive and, I'm sure, maddening to women radicals who were about and active in 2001. She concludes with saying that the jobs and political positions have had a taming effect on women and laments this. Well, when society finally starts to recognize your rights then yes, demanding them is not going to seem as outside the norm (though women still get a lot of flak for it). But I don't think that means that modern women are docile little kittens anymore. Honestly this book seemed to put women down while trying to appear to build them up. If you want something to read about amazing women, check out Rejected Princesses. It's a lot more diverse and the author puts a lot of work into historical accuracy and is very aware that he is covering women who have been ignored by historians and doesn't paint this picture that most women have sat on their butts raising children while only a daring few challenged the norm.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tamora Pierce

    This is a fun, breezy read, a survey of some of the greatest women notables of history, from warriors like the Amazons and Scythian women (Joan of Arc is found under those who dressed like men) and Boudicca to exiles like Lady Hester Stanhope and Marianne North, to seekers like Saint Mary of Egypt and Alexandra David-Neel, and to radicals like Mother Jones. The book doesn't pretend to be all-embracing, but it is informative. It's a little too cute in places (I could have done without nearly so ma This is a fun, breezy read, a survey of some of the greatest women notables of history, from warriors like the Amazons and Scythian women (Joan of Arc is found under those who dressed like men) and Boudicca to exiles like Lady Hester Stanhope and Marianne North, to seekers like Saint Mary of Egypt and Alexandra David-Neel, and to radicals like Mother Jones. The book doesn't pretend to be all-embracing, but it is informative. It's a little too cute in places (I could have done without nearly so many references to discovering one's being, utter philistines, and the Soul's Spiritual Vision when it came to Isadora Duncan--she may have talked like a chucklehead, but she did remake the world of dance), but it does introduce the reader to a number of new, fascinating women to track down for oneself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Iain

    By no means a serious work of history or biography: more of a anecdotal and polemical roundup of a handful of significant female figures in history (well, the history of the Western world, anyway), chosen to make a point about the one-sided nature of our common cultural history. Holland's writing style is chatty and breezy and she's inclined to dismiss groundless speculation from others with the same insouciance as she happily indulges in it herself. You'd never rely on this as a book of serious By no means a serious work of history or biography: more of a anecdotal and polemical roundup of a handful of significant female figures in history (well, the history of the Western world, anyway), chosen to make a point about the one-sided nature of our common cultural history. Holland's writing style is chatty and breezy and she's inclined to dismiss groundless speculation from others with the same insouciance as she happily indulges in it herself. You'd never rely on this as a book of serious history, but it's clearly not intended to be. One gets the clear impression Holland would like nothing more than for the reader to go off in search of more 'serious' historical information about the women she deploys as her examples.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liesa

    I didn't even finish the book. Which is unfortunate because the stories of the women in this book are worth reading. I just couldn't stand to read this author's words anymore. Too much opinion "men bad, women good and oh so oppressed". The book is full of whining. To top it off its poorly edited. I rarely put a book down with out finishing it. I didn't even finish the book. Which is unfortunate because the stories of the women in this book are worth reading. I just couldn't stand to read this author's words anymore. Too much opinion "men bad, women good and oh so oppressed". The book is full of whining. To top it off its poorly edited. I rarely put a book down with out finishing it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    The first part of this book was great then you get to wayfarers its dives badly there. it took me ages to get threw the last part I gave up before a finished the last chapter.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Em

    The subtitle of this book is 'Women, Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways & Renegades' is provocative. And the text within seemed to provoke wild imaginings... of 'what if'. Not surprising then that the conclusion to the book is an exhortation to all women to walk off from the beaten path; a tacit permission to stray afield. It is an education, this book. I was familiar with several of the stories of women contained within this book, even read the biographies of a few. But there were some stories that The subtitle of this book is 'Women, Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways & Renegades' is provocative. And the text within seemed to provoke wild imaginings... of 'what if'. Not surprising then that the conclusion to the book is an exhortation to all women to walk off from the beaten path; a tacit permission to stray afield. It is an education, this book. I was familiar with several of the stories of women contained within this book, even read the biographies of a few. But there were some stories that were unknown to me and I'm angry that history books so often ignore the contributions of women. The word history has seemed sexist to me since university when I was cast in the play 'Relics' playing a simpleton archivist named Tagg T. Tagg, and had the line 'why history, why not her-story?'. Holland's introduction showed it plainly when it stated in 2000 National Geographic published a millennial and supposedly definitive time line of human history from 30,000 BC to 2,000 AD, not a single woman appears on it, but Elvis was there and many other men of more minor accomplishments. The story that staggered me the most was that of the real life Mother Jones (not the magazine) - how could she have been left out of the history books I read of the 20th century, industrialization and the labor movement? Why? Because she was a dangerous agitator, or because she was an affront to the male hierarchy? Holland's conclusion, her challenge made me wonder what adventure I could set-off to seek? Her premise is that women without children can more easily go where she wishes, though now careers keep us in our place. And so I want to ponder...what adventure awaits or for what cause could I agitate. The possibilities enthrall my imagination...the scent of 'if only'.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Finally, I can cross this book off my list! I started reading it last fall as required reading for a class I was taking and it's just been hanging out there half finished on my 'currently reading' shelf for a good 7 or 8 months. It was great but incredibly dense with details and historical anecdotes. Even though Barbara Holland has a talent for making history come to life, it was tough to read very much at one time because there was so much new information to process and absorb. The whole book is Finally, I can cross this book off my list! I started reading it last fall as required reading for a class I was taking and it's just been hanging out there half finished on my 'currently reading' shelf for a good 7 or 8 months. It was great but incredibly dense with details and historical anecdotes. Even though Barbara Holland has a talent for making history come to life, it was tough to read very much at one time because there was so much new information to process and absorb. The whole book is chalk full of stories of women throughout history who decided to buck expectations and do things their own way. Some chapters were really vivid and entertaining, a few were a little on the dull side, especially towards the end, but I think that was intended especially in light of Holland's ideas in the conclusion that women's careers have replaced adventures for the most part. I wasn't on board with her notion that getting involved in our careers and thus "playing by the rules" is such a bad thing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C.

    I started this book last year and it got buried under the pile of other books I've been reading. I found it a couple weeks ago and started it over and read straight through. It's a very entertaining and interesting read. It reads like a collection of anecdotes and stories about women who defied the social norm to follow their own desires. The only criticism I have is the lack of a bibliography, which hurts the authenticity of the stories. The conclusion, however, more than makes up for it. It wa I started this book last year and it got buried under the pile of other books I've been reading. I found it a couple weeks ago and started it over and read straight through. It's a very entertaining and interesting read. It reads like a collection of anecdotes and stories about women who defied the social norm to follow their own desires. The only criticism I have is the lack of a bibliography, which hurts the authenticity of the stories. The conclusion, however, more than makes up for it. It was a great piece of writing that I think I'll take to quoting. "When we can manage a long weekend, we take the laptop along, and with the corner office finally in sight, who would buy a camel and vanish alone into the desert aboard it, or even lock herself in a bedroom for twenty years to write unpublished verse? . . . Certainly women are better off now, at least in civilized countries, with our fine new opportunities to behave ourselves and follow the rules. Still, it's nice to know there were Amazons out there, once upon a time."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel-paul Israel

    I've enjoyed the infomation in this book. Holland's writing style is easy to read. Many books concerning "masculine women" women warriers are full of jargon. The importance of the book for me was reading about the different kinds of warrior women throughout time. The importance of reading about the women for me was empowering to continue on in my own journey. The book was supportive of me searching for common ground with female bodied people who have broken out of the bonds of what society expec I've enjoyed the infomation in this book. Holland's writing style is easy to read. Many books concerning "masculine women" women warriers are full of jargon. The importance of the book for me was reading about the different kinds of warrior women throughout time. The importance of reading about the women for me was empowering to continue on in my own journey. The book was supportive of me searching for common ground with female bodied people who have broken out of the bonds of what society expects women to be and conform to. The book was also interesting to me because the women were not discussed through their sexuality as a primary means of their identity. I think that the section on Menswear and the empowerment of clothing within the warrior woman was incredily important to the book because Menswear is often regarded as a myth to society. A women in menswear is often seen as threatening; however, to the women, the freedom found in the wearing of mens clothing is empowering to the woman wearing it. I fully enjoyed reading the story of George Sand the most.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Madmadam

    This book will not fail to fascinate with its lively,"unladylike" tales. Historically accurate, though these particular histories are largely ignored, due to the gender of the featured characters. Did you know a woman successfully black mailed Abraham Lincoln? Have you heard of the foreign lady pirate who dared approach the throne of Queen Elizabeth? We often hear tell of the men who first conquered/discovered this or that, but rarely do we hear of the women who've been there, done that-and were This book will not fail to fascinate with its lively,"unladylike" tales. Historically accurate, though these particular histories are largely ignored, due to the gender of the featured characters. Did you know a woman successfully black mailed Abraham Lincoln? Have you heard of the foreign lady pirate who dared approach the throne of Queen Elizabeth? We often hear tell of the men who first conquered/discovered this or that, but rarely do we hear of the women who've been there, done that-and were even sometimes first, I might add. Barbara's writing style is refreshing. I felt almost as if we were facing each other over coffee. Impromptu and fun-though not completely unscholarly, obviously she's done the research, but she isn't about to weigh you down with footnotes. If you're bothered by strong feminist opinions, you may enjoy the book less than I. Oh, Barbara Holland you delight me with descriptions of adventure, and then you break my heart by telling me with no gentleness that it is over. May wonder women of the future prove you wrong!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was my favorite non-fiction book growing up, and I must have read it two dozen times between the ages of ten and twenty. Rambling, whimsical, informative and humorous, They Went Whistling covers the stories of women from all walks of life. Whether they dressed and acted as men or wore flowing silks and reveled in their femininity, were good mother or bad, wed or unwed, surly writers or flashy exotic dancers, their lives were thrilling and exciting to read about. I would say that this is wort This was my favorite non-fiction book growing up, and I must have read it two dozen times between the ages of ten and twenty. Rambling, whimsical, informative and humorous, They Went Whistling covers the stories of women from all walks of life. Whether they dressed and acted as men or wore flowing silks and reveled in their femininity, were good mother or bad, wed or unwed, surly writers or flashy exotic dancers, their lives were thrilling and exciting to read about. I would say that this is worth a read for any woman interested in adventure, any girl trying to find her place outside of society's constraints, and anyone at all looking to be entertained and educated.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Found many of the stories intriguing, historic and exciting. Some, not so,. but that was my choice of characters. Found the author to be quite opinionated on certain facts regarding how women should / should not behave according their place in society and time in this world. For her to say there are no more of these trailblazing women in today's society, was a bit rash - there are many women forging their way into new frontiers today - it may not seem as impressive due to our global world, but I Found many of the stories intriguing, historic and exciting. Some, not so,. but that was my choice of characters. Found the author to be quite opinionated on certain facts regarding how women should / should not behave according their place in society and time in this world. For her to say there are no more of these trailblazing women in today's society, was a bit rash - there are many women forging their way into new frontiers today - it may not seem as impressive due to our global world, but I am sure they are just as resilient, fearless and eccentric.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Clearly feminist in bent, "They Went Walking" is an entertaining collection of stories about unusual women who don't make it into most history books. The tales range in length from single paragraphs to pages and pages, I'm assuming based on how much material the author was able to access. If you're looking for scholarly work about these women, or at least unbiased tellings of biased sources, then this book is NOT for you. But if you're looking for a good time and maybe are feeling a bit itchy yo Clearly feminist in bent, "They Went Walking" is an entertaining collection of stories about unusual women who don't make it into most history books. The tales range in length from single paragraphs to pages and pages, I'm assuming based on how much material the author was able to access. If you're looking for scholarly work about these women, or at least unbiased tellings of biased sources, then this book is NOT for you. But if you're looking for a good time and maybe are feeling a bit itchy yourself, it's a fun read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chanson Vanessa

    This book further cements the emancipated woman's status as an offspring of the pains, the struggles, the glories, and the conquests of the women who, before her, had dared to tread the narrow path to the freedom. Read about history's giantesses Amelia Earheart, Bonnie Parker, Joan D'Arc, Cleopatra, Isadora Duncan, Belle Boyd, the Amazons, and more than a handful of lesser known women who summoned the courage to truly look the world in the face and laugh, wickedly, while doing so. This book further cements the emancipated woman's status as an offspring of the pains, the struggles, the glories, and the conquests of the women who, before her, had dared to tread the narrow path to the freedom. Read about history's giantesses Amelia Earheart, Bonnie Parker, Joan D'Arc, Cleopatra, Isadora Duncan, Belle Boyd, the Amazons, and more than a handful of lesser known women who summoned the courage to truly look the world in the face and laugh, wickedly, while doing so.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Not your typical history book but really, haven't we all read enough of those? Definately a slanted view and rather obvious on the "men don't have a clue" viewpoint. Don't read it for something to cite, just read it to remember wild women. Not your typical history book but really, haven't we all read enough of those? Definately a slanted view and rather obvious on the "men don't have a clue" viewpoint. Don't read it for something to cite, just read it to remember wild women.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Suzy

    This book tells you of women, that for some, are largely forgotten in our history books and our collective memory. Women who broke the mold and were driven to accomplish what they were passionate about in life. It is a book that makes you want to go an adventure when finished reading it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Holland writes just the kind of quirky info I love. There are actually nine categories of wild women, not just the four in the subtitle. Everyone from Cleopatra to Joan of Arc to Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde. Her little feminist asides are great.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    History with good humor. A side of women's stories told with both their failures and triumphs. Chapters broken into characteristics of subjects rather than the subjects themselves - examples: Exiles; Seekers; Grandstanders. Makes for quick and satisfying reads. History with good humor. A side of women's stories told with both their failures and triumphs. Chapters broken into characteristics of subjects rather than the subjects themselves - examples: Exiles; Seekers; Grandstanders. Makes for quick and satisfying reads.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    This was an interesting look at the women who have stood out the most in history. The infamous and those who have lead the way for human rights. There are some great tales in here, and some nitty gritty backgrounds on some pretty cool females.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn-anne Templeton

    On the one hand: Great history. Fascinating characters. Fun and easy read. On the other hand: The author is clearly from an older generation of feminists, who have been far more 'oppressed' than I have. As such, some of her commentary is a bit much. On the one hand: Great history. Fascinating characters. Fun and easy read. On the other hand: The author is clearly from an older generation of feminists, who have been far more 'oppressed' than I have. As such, some of her commentary is a bit much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Veleda

    A fun premise wrecked by abysmal scholarship, bursts of racism and transphobia, a weird strain of gender essentialism, and a bizarre inability to stay in one tense.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Claire Moore

    For all the absolutely fierce and overly independent women, if you need some fresh inspiration and a bit of a reminder to break the rules, cast off society's shackles, seek out a life of passionate adventure and whistle so wildly along the way that the rest of the world cringes, then I don't think there's a better book to recommend. For all the absolutely fierce and overly independent women, if you need some fresh inspiration and a bit of a reminder to break the rules, cast off society's shackles, seek out a life of passionate adventure and whistle so wildly along the way that the rest of the world cringes, then I don't think there's a better book to recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This is definitely not a straight history book, but it's interesting and worth reading. This is definitely not a straight history book, but it's interesting and worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Bricker

    There was a LOT of fun and awesome stuff here, but the unvarying tone of snark started to wear on me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    A good book for reading in airports. Holland's retelling of classic figures, urban legends and tall tales is enjoyable to read. The woman who decides to settle for an ordinary life of a housewife or career woman doesn't get a good rap in Holland's tales. Her last chapter laments that there are no women left acting like rebels, renegades or wayfarers; I think that Holland is very mistaken. She may have fallen victim to forgetting that the world is not just the people she knows in her own group fr A good book for reading in airports. Holland's retelling of classic figures, urban legends and tall tales is enjoyable to read. The woman who decides to settle for an ordinary life of a housewife or career woman doesn't get a good rap in Holland's tales. Her last chapter laments that there are no women left acting like rebels, renegades or wayfarers; I think that Holland is very mistaken. She may have fallen victim to forgetting that the world is not just the people she knows in her own group friends. I think the best part of the book is that it peaked my interest to find out more about the women she discusses.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fallon Crowley

    I really wanted to like this book, because I like quirky history books. But starting from the introduction, this book just kept surprising me with random sexism - first against men, then against women too; and then there is the racism and the transphobia... The author generalizes about every possible group in frustrating ways, outright denies that a historical transwoman was in fact a woman, and repeatedly refers to Australian Aboriginals as "savages". I hung on for as long as I did because I ke I really wanted to like this book, because I like quirky history books. But starting from the introduction, this book just kept surprising me with random sexism - first against men, then against women too; and then there is the racism and the transphobia... The author generalizes about every possible group in frustrating ways, outright denies that a historical transwoman was in fact a woman, and repeatedly refers to Australian Aboriginals as "savages". I hung on for as long as I did because I kept thinking "clearly this must be sarcasm". But it really isn't clear when she is being sarcastic and when she is not. I finally gave up on the book about 2/3rds of the way through.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Clickety

    Rather too much guesswork for my taste, especially as the author snips at other writers for doing the same thing. Not poorly written, though, and I expect others will find it more to their tastes. Oh! And she lost serious cred with me for not including the "We plead our bellies" part of Ann and Mary's story. *glare* (At least she got the line "If you'd fought like a man, you wouldn't have to die like a dog!") Rather too much guesswork for my taste, especially as the author snips at other writers for doing the same thing. Not poorly written, though, and I expect others will find it more to their tastes. Oh! And she lost serious cred with me for not including the "We plead our bellies" part of Ann and Mary's story. *glare* (At least she got the line "If you'd fought like a man, you wouldn't have to die like a dog!")

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I found this review that I wrote in an email: "This is a book about women who didn't follow traditional norms and did "masculine" things like cleopatra, joan of arc, the petticoat terror of the plains, isadora duncan, etc. It was atrocious. It had a few good points, but overall the author's scholarship was nonexistent. She cited nothing! If anything, she just got me interested in learning more about some people..." I found this review that I wrote in an email: "This is a book about women who didn't follow traditional norms and did "masculine" things like cleopatra, joan of arc, the petticoat terror of the plains, isadora duncan, etc. It was atrocious. It had a few good points, but overall the author's scholarship was nonexistent. She cited nothing! If anything, she just got me interested in learning more about some people..."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    While I enjoyed the stories of the women in this book, I wasn't crazy about Barbara Holland's writing style. I felt like she put her opinion in the book too much. I did, however, really enjoy the book club discussion that we had from this book. It really sparked the question "What is adventure in my life?" to me and has really made me think about the things I do daily. While I enjoyed the stories of the women in this book, I wasn't crazy about Barbara Holland's writing style. I felt like she put her opinion in the book too much. I did, however, really enjoy the book club discussion that we had from this book. It really sparked the question "What is adventure in my life?" to me and has really made me think about the things I do daily.

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