A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa

A Secret Sisterhood

Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. Coauthors and real-life friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney prove this wrong, thanks to their discovery of a wealth of surprising collaborations: the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, playwrig...

Details A Secret Sisterhood

TitleA Secret Sisterhood
Release DateOct 17th, 2017
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, Feminism, Writing, Books About Books

Reviews A Secret Sisterhood

  • Roman Clodia
    Comprising brief dual-biographies of 8 women, the premise of this book is that female literary friendships have been written out, submerged or forgotten from the lives of four women authors: Austen, Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Woolf. Reading the book, I'm not especially convinced by this argument: the relationship between Bronte and Mary Taylor is well covered in the standard biographies, as is the sometimes conflicted relationship between Woolf ...
  • Susan
    This is an interesting joint literary biography of four famous authors: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, which looks at particular, literary friendships they had with other women. I am not that convinced by some of the literary friendships chosen for each of the authors, but then I have read individual biographies of all but George Eliot. Still, even if it is difficult to pick a ‘closest,’ literary confidante, t...
  • Cynthia
    I live for books such as these, books discussing how, why, and where excellent writers began and "A Secret Sisterhood" is one of the best I've come across. As you can see from the subtitle Midorikawa and Sweeney focus on Austen, Bronte, Eliot, and, Woolf. Eliot and Woolf have friends who were also well known writers Respectively Harriet Beecher Stowe and Katherine Mansfield. Because of the time periods involved and given that much, or all in Stow...
  • Nancy
    Writers Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney were teaching in Japan when they met. They immediately connected and soon were regularly meeting and critiquing each other's writing.As they collaborated on writing A Secret Sisterhood, they found happiness in spite of the stress. Their unfounded feared was that their 'bond between equals' would be threatened if one achieved success before the other. When Margaret Atwood offered to write the forwar...
  • Anna
    I will admit that at first the tone of this book struck me as a little twee and overly whimsical. The authors likened their shared dreams of being writers to those of 19th century novelists and thus seemed to be projecting their emotions in a slightly discomforting manner. As I read on, though, I got used to this and unbent towards the book. ‘A Secret Sisterhood’ turned out to be a sensitively written, thoughtful, and moving account of four l...
  • Jen
    This book delivered exactly what it promised and I couldn't have been happier with it! I'm somewhat shocked and saddened that it took so long for this idea to not only occur to someone, but to also be written about and shared with the world at large. No, this isn't going to bring about World Peace, but it is one step closer to bringing women on par in society's eyes, with men. Not to knock men, they are great and all, but they always seem to get ...
  • Kressel Housman
    I discovered this book while searching for a good biography of George Eliot, and because it also included Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, it became an instant "must read." The subtitle seems to imply that the four featured authoresses were friends, but as any fan can tell you, Jane Austen lived some fifty years before Bronte and Eliot, and Virginia Woolf lived some fifty years after them. Rather, the book traces a close friendship each of the a...
  • Lee
    LOVED THIS!!! I usually don't read nonfiction, but I am so glad I picked this up. The inclusion of diary entries and quotes was seamless, and I really enjoyed seeing how the literary friendships of famous women writers informed the two authors' friendship.
  • Genna
    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Full review to come closer to the publication date.A delightful look at female literary friendships that have been too-long overlooked. Featuring Jane Austen and governess playwright Anne Sharp; the pioneering feminist author Mary Taylor and her influence on the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic correspondence of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the oft misunderstood relati...
  • Girl with her Head in a Book
    For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/...As a final read for Brooding about the Brontës, this felt like a perfect pick.  Midorikawa and Sweeney are a pair of female writers and friends who chose to investigate the supportive connections between various well-known writers, including Charlotte Brontë.  This is a fascinating angle to the Brontës since they are typically regarded as such an insular family since the point to S...
  • Laurie
    “A Secret Sisterhood” examines the relationships that early female writers had with friends. Most that is written about Austen and Charlotte Bronte shows them working in isolation (aside from the Bronte siblings); in fact they both had active friendships with other women both through correspondence and face to face, where they talked about their work. Eliot and Woolf have less of a reputation for loneliness, but still aren’t considered to b...
  • Jennifer Muldowney
    Interesting,albeit difficult friendships between famous literary women. I’m so glad that my 3 daughters and I live in the modern age!
  • Dawn
    I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads.I primarily requested this title due to having a fascination with all things Jane Austen, but was pleasantly surprised to find all of the stories to be very interesting in their own rights. Very well-written with a cohesive theme of friendships between female author, readers will gain insight into how such friendships contributed to these authors' works. I was expecting the writing to be somewhat dry,...
  • Jo
    A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so ...
  • Hannah
    I liked the premise of this book more than the book itself. I think it would have been a lot better if the sources were cited within the actual writing instead of in the notes section in the back. Unless you flip back and forth it's impossible to know what came from a primary source and what is the two authors' own voices.
  • Mark
    There are multiple reasons to like this book. First, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Clare Sweeney have produced a fine work of literary biography. Second, although even light readers of 19th and 20th century literature may be familiar with the names of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, they will be introduced to other women writers with whom they may be somewhat less familiar, namely, Anne Sharp, Mary Taylor, Harriet Be...
  • Linda Hill
    I have to confess that it has taken me some time to read A Secret Sisterhood as there is so much information to absorb I needed time to reflect and consider what I’d read. The style of the book is very accessible and balances quotation and research with original writing perfectly. At times this is more like reading a narrative than an academic study and it just goes to show what wonderful writers both authors are. Their own friendship shines th...
  • Gwen
    Having seen it this as a hardback in the shops, I immediately snapped it up when I saw an audiobook version. As with all non-fiction, there were downsides to 'reading' this as an audiobook - I missed being able to check references (once a History student, always a History student), particularly at points when I found myself raising an eyebrow at the large amounts of speculation.And this is perhaps my biggest frustration with the book - particular...
  • BookBully
    Who could resist this title/subtitle? Not I for one. A SECRET SISTERHOOD: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf delivers, for the most part. Co-authors and good friends, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, obviously researched their subjects well digging deep into the lives of these four authors.In some cases a friendship was ignored by early biographers, as was the case with Jane Austen...
  • Tiffany
    I enjoyed A Secret Sisterhood. Often, literary history only focuses on the relationships/friendships between famous male authors or male authors and female in the form of encouragement, critique, or connection, this book turns all of that and focuses on the relationships on several female authors and the encouragement and support they received from each other. I enjoyed the in-depth research and documentation that supported the majority of the au...
  • Theresa
    I received this book as a Christmas gift and I had never heard of it. It was a wonderful look into the literary friendships and relationships between four pairs of female writers, including Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and Katherine Mansfield. These relationships were mostly hidden from the public eye and developed through correspondence or behind the scenes. It was encouraging to read about the mutual support offe...
  • Anne Goodwin
    When you imagine the lives of our literary foremothers, do you think of them scribbling away in isolation or inspired and supported by like-minded friends? Writer friends Emily and Emma have delved into the archives to revitalise the hidden friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. For each of these literary greats they have uncovered a secret sister, a friendship valued, despite the inevitable envy and rival...
  • Peter
    A Secret Sisterhood is a very interesting book on many levels. It also has a format that I found at once engaging, informative, breezy, too informal and yet innovative. Now, that is a mouthful and thoughtless jumble from me, I know. Briefly, then: the book offers the reader a clear insight into an area of discussion that has been understudied for too long, or, as the dust jacket comments, too long “consigned to the shadows.”This book strips a...
  • Gary
    Breaks apart the stereotypes of women authors. This book contains excellent writing, great stories, and most of all, a new perspective on some of the greatest women writers. They had many social ties. They had close friends among the other great women writers. The books written by men about women writers will henceforth be looked on with an appropriate wariness.
  • Pearl Grace
    Fascinating! The pairs, their relationships- it’s all so intriguing. I appreciate how the book imparts a positive image on the women’s friendships. Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison are all mentioned in here. All the greats and their connections to each other. It was so interesting.
  • Hannah Wattangeri
    Whilst this wasn't an exciting book to read there were elements of it I found interesting and intriguing. It was definitely good to get a glimpse into lives and relationships of these famed female authors. I particularly liked the theme and idea of the book which highlights the importance of female friendships, alliances and support. Hopefully I will follow up on some of the biograhies listed
  • Cayla
    Thought-provoking read into the friendships of some of the most influential female writers. My mind wandered a bit and I'm not sure if that was due to the subject matter or writing, but if you have any interest in these authors, you should enjoy this! Thanks to Bookreporter for the free copy!
  • Jossalyn
    for jane austen book club;interesting exploration of pairs of women writers who had relationships with other women writers.saw these authors at a book event, and they told interesting stories about finds made during research.
  • Karen
    Think male writers in literary history have all the fun? Think again. I just got done reading A Secret Sisterhood which examines the friendship between women in many past literary circles. A fascinating read where I learned a lot about some of my favorite authors (especially Charlotte Bronte).