In 1853, Abigail Scott was a nineteen-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her - and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote.
Based on a true story, Something Worth Doing will resonate with modern women who still grapple with the pull between career and family, finding their place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices when competing in male-dominated spaces.
Something Worth Doing is an eye-opening read into a woman's place in society during the 1800s - a time when a woman was not allowed to own property, have jobs outside of the home if they are married (and were only granted certain types of employment if they were unmarried), or even vote in elections. The home was deemed to be the only proper place for a woman, thereby pushing parents to secure successful marriages for their daughters. A woman's value as a human being with equal rights, was downright scorned in society where only men could make important decisions.
Abigail Scott Duniway had enough of the prejudices towards herself and other women in society and decided to do something about it. So began a life-long pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for women, particularly, the right to vote in elections. Over the course of her life, she encountered many trials and sorrows, but equally many successes, both in her business ventures, and also in her quest for the right to vote. This novel doesn't pull any punches in detailing those ups and downs in her life, including strained interactions with her family.
Abigail was a force to be reckoned with. She was a wife, farmer, rancher, business owner, newspaperwoman, land speculator, mother of six, author, etc., among other titles. It is mind-blowing the amount of accomplishments she was able to achieve in her lifetime! All that she put her hand too received 100% of her grit and determination. I admire Abigail for her tenacity and ability to have a razor sharp focus on her pursuits.
However, an individual's strength can also become their greatest weakness, and that is seen no clearer than in Abigail's life. Abigail, in her fight for equal rights, often pushed the priorities of her family and husband to the background. What was most important to her was her journey and her dream for the right to vote - even to the detriment of her own family and husband's dreams. Constantly her children and her husband were pushed aside to the benefit of her own pursuits; from leaving home for 10 months at a time to embark on speaking tours around the States to abandoning her dying child for another speaking event. It is sad that in her fight for equal rights in the home (which her husband was generally rather accepting and supportive of), it made no difference to her if that meant walking over her own husband's dreams or desires or the needs of her children to have their mother present while growing up.
I can't say I felt an immediate kinship to Abigail; particularly due to the treatment of her husband and children. She was willing to pursue her dream at all costs - no matter the sacrifice, bringing up the age-old question: Does the end justify the means? It was something I found difficult to reconcile, particularly given the lack of faith element in her story.
In the end, no one can deny the impact she had on society and the suffragist movement. She was instrumental in establishing the right for women to vote in America and pursued "Something Worth Doing" with every fiber of her being.
Brimming with historical facts, Something Worth Doing is a interesting look into the life of Abigail Scott Duniway and the difficult journey for women's right to vote.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and , Inc.