BOOK REVIEW: A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher

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I have lived through part of the struggle for women’s rights in the 60s and 70s, but I can’t imagine how it was at the beginning, when women were fighting for the right to vote.  My father, who is almost 84, remembers his grandmother telling him that she voted in every election after she was given the right.  It was too early for such rights to be taken for granted.

This time period, 1915, one in which women’s rights were sought for and newly won, is the time period of Robin Lee Hatcher’s new novel, A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.  Hatcher tells the  story of Gwen Arlington, a 28-year-old “spinster by choice,” who is determined to be the mistress of her own life.  At the urging of her twin sister, Cleo, Gwen decides to run for mayor of the town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho.  (Idaho gave women the right to vote in 1896.)  She’s clearly a better choice than Hiram Tattersall, who is a drunk, but will the people of Bethlehem Springs vote for her?  As mayor, she will be a woman right in the middle of a man’s world.

Enter wealthy newcomer, Morgan McKinley.  Morgan is new to Bethlehem Springs and is there to build the New Hope Health Spa, a place that offers physical and spiritual healing to rich and poor alike.  Morgan is having some difficulty in having his dream come together and thinks it might help if he had a hand in making the laws, so he decides to run for mayor, too.

The mayor’s race brings Gwen and Morgan together, and they fall in love.  In order to get married, though, somebody has to give something up.  Morgan is willing.  Is Gwen?

I really enjoyed examining the idea of submission in A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.  Human beings constantly choose whether to take control of their own lives or relinquish control to those in authority over them.  In Gwen’s case, if she marries Morgan, he will be in authority over her.  Since she came from a society in which women were more controlled than we can possibly imagine, her struggle to yield to Morgan was enormous.

Gwen’s sister, Cleo, is just as independent as her sister, but in a far different way.  Her story, FIT TO BE TIED,  comes out this fall, and I can’t wait to read it.   In our world, people often equate submission with being a doormat.  It’s nice to read about women who know what the word truly means.

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