The Story of Avis

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Rutgers University Press, 1985 - Biography & Autobiography - 278 pages
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One of the most prolific and popular American writers of her time, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps is, nearly a century later, once more coming to be considered a major author. The Story of Avis, her most ambitious and successful novel, has long been out of print and will prove a revelation to modern readers. Avis is the story of a larger-than-life heroine, a promising artist, who against her better judgment is persuaded by her lover, Philip Ostrander--a "new man"--to marry. The failure of their modern marriage, and in due course of Avis's career, is inevitable. Phelps depicts the turmoil of her characters' inner lives with great sensitivity and with a skill that is striking. A feminist who clearly saw the constraints of traditional gender roles upon women and men, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps was ahead of her own time in post-Civil War America. She remains highly readable today. "The Story of Avis (1877) will shock any reader who still thinks nineteenth-century American women's fiction is sentimental and pious. This novel is angry, not sentimental; iconoclastic, not pious; it concerns a talented and dedicated painter whose marriage destroys her genius."--Choice "This ornately articulate novel is playful; both kind and hopeful in its vision of the female conundrum. . . . I had intended to speed read [it]. I ready every word."--Joyce Bright, Belles Lettres

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