The Story of Avis
By: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911)
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's 1877 novel is set in a New England college town, and focuses on Avis Dobell, a professor's daughter. Avis is a talented painter, and bucks against the constraints placed on women in the 19th century. She wants to pursue a career as an artist and rejects marriage and motherhood, until she meets the charismatic young professor Philip Ostrander. Phelps's novel is a beautifully-written examination of the conflicts between marriage and career for women that is still relevant today.