Jennifer’s Sasee Book Club (July 2008)
By Jennifer Borchers
Sex is scandalous. At least it was for two early American women. In the two novels I’m recommending this month, Roberta Jewett and Hester Prynne face red-hot rejection when they are deemed immoral.
That Camden Summer
by LaVyrle Spencer
That Camden Summer, by LaVyrle Spencer, is a love story set in 1916. Roberta Jewett is a progressive woman who wants to buy a house, work as a nurse and learn to drive a car. If that’s not bad enough, she divorces her philandering husband and plans to raise her three children alone. But a conservative and influential group of citizens decides that Roberta is unfit and plots to take her children away. Luckily the house Roberta bought needs to be renovated. It seems the only kind person in Camden is a widowed carpenter. Roberta finds strength in a loving relationship until she is brutally raped. This story tugs at your heart and reminds you of the long journey American women took to enjoy the freedoms they have today.
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is one of America’s first great novels. Hester Prynne is a young woman who lives in colonial Boston. She commits the unforgivable crime of having sex with a man who is not her husband. Hester suffers rejection and banishment from the town, but refuses to reveal her lover. Hester’s strength and grace come through in her conversations with her daughter, Pearl. As the years pass on, Pearl questions her mother about the “A” on her dress and the way the townspeople treat her. Hester is truly remarkable as she suffers quietly for the sake of her daughter.
Consider these questions as you think about Roberta and Hester: If a woman decides to have sex outside of marriage, does she deserve whatever she gets? Do the same rules apply to men? Would the same consequences befall a man? Should a single mother be celibate? Is there a limit to the number of sexual partners one woman should have in her lifetime?
There’s no better way to survive a heat wave than to find a cool place in the shade and kick back with a good book. Tune in to Sasee for recommendations all summer long.
About this writer
- Jennifer Borchers is a frequent visitor to Myrtle Beach. As an Upstate resident, she looks forward to spending her vacation time at the shore and among her favorite haunts along the Grand Strand. Jennifer is a senior at Converse College and will receive a BA in English in 2008. She lives in Greer with her husband and two children.