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The author of the illustratively poignant Reading Womenrejoins the topic with visual and biographical portraits of 47 women writers from the Middle Ages to the present. Eight themes and a foreword by novelist and critic Francine Prose unify these writers, highlighting their courage, endurance, bravery, and personal struggles against cultural, historical, societal, and political forces. Bollmann juxtaposes their stories with portraits, photographs, and reproductions of some manuscript pages to evoke a gallery of literary heroines and martyrs (the collection whispers of a still-evidential bias against women authors). These women's lives convey what Prose calls an "unkillable impulse" to write. Yet as the eye moves from the visuals to the text, the reader is given the opportunity to respond personally to a fresh interpretation of each writer's life and literary contribution. Bollmann succeeds in portraying authors who happen to be women as opposed to women who happen to write. A good if somewhat narrowly focused work, this is optional for public libraries and for general and specialized collections.
—Katharine A. Webb