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Ladies Must Live   By: (1874-1942)

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Ladies Must Live by Alice Duer Miller offers readers an intriguing and thought-provoking exploration of the lives and challenges faced by women in the early 20th century. Set in a time when societal expectations often limited women's choices and ambitions, this novel delves into the lives of three women who defy convention to lead independent lives.

Miller portrays her characters with depth and sensitivity, bringing to life their unique struggles and desires. The protagonist, Anne Harding, finds herself at a crossroads, torn between the comfort of a stable marriage and the allure of pursuing her passion for writing in New York City. Throughout the narrative, Miller skillfully captures the internal conflicts Anne faces as she confronts the expectations placed upon her as a wife and a woman of her time.

Alongside Anne, the author introduces readers to two equally compelling characters. Judith, an artist's model, embodies the perseverance and strength required to navigate a world that is hostile towards women who choose unconventional paths. Her tenacity is inspiring, and her story serves as a compelling counterpoint to Anne's journey.

The third character, the enigmatic and complex Elsa, adds further depth to the narrative. Her mysterious background and unconventional lifestyle challenge societal norms and prompt readers to question their own perceptions of morality and propriety. Elsa's presence disrupts the traditional notions of what it meant to be a "lady" during that era, forcing readers to examine the social constructs that have long shaped women's lives.

The themes explored in Ladies Must Live are just as relevant today as they were when the book was first published. Miller expertly addresses issues such as gender roles, societal expectations, and the struggle for self-fulfillment. By illuminating the challenges women faced in the early 20th century, the author prompts readers to reflect on the progress made and the work that still remains to be done in achieving gender equality.

Though the book is a work of fiction, it offers valuable insights into the historical context and the systemic barriers that have hindered women's autonomy and ambition for centuries. Miller's prose is elegant and engaging, allowing the reader to be fully immersed in the characters' lives and emotions. The pacing is well-crafted, and the plot unfolds with just the right amount of tension to keep readers compelled.

Overall, Ladies Must Live is a captivating novel that powerfully captures the struggles of women striving for independence in a world that constantly attempts to confine them. Alice Duer Miller's adept storytelling and rich character development make this book a must-read for those interested in exploring the complexities of women's lives in the early 20th century and contemplating the enduring quest for gender equality.

First Page:




Author of "Come Out of the Kitchen," etc.



Mrs. Ussher was having a small house party in the country over New Year's Day. This is equivalent to saying that the half dozen most fashionable people in New York were out of town.

Certain human beings are admitted to have a genius for discrimination in such matters as objects of art, pigs or stocks. Mrs. Ussher had this same instinct in regard to fashion, especially where fashions in people were concerned. She turned toward hidden social availability very much as the douser's hazel wand turns toward the hidden spring. When she crossed the room to speak to some woman after dinner, whatever that woman's social position might formerly have been, you could be sure that at present she was on the upward wing. When Mrs. Ussher discovered extraordinary qualities of mind and sympathy in some hitherto impossible man, you might be certain it was time to begin to book him in advance.

Not that Mrs. Ussher was a kingmaker; she herself had no more power over the situation than the barometer has over the weather. She merely was able to foretell; she had the sense of approaching social success.

She was unaware of her own powers, and really supposed that her sudden and usually ephemeral friendships were based on mutual attraction... Continue reading book >>

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