Monday, June 20, 2016

History-Busting, Outrageous, Glorious Novel, The Renegade Queen by Eva Flynn - Consider it A Must-Read for Women!

You may be among the women and men who have never heard of Victoria Woodhull. As the video above shows, as Hillary Clinton fights on to the possibility of the presidency, Eva Flynn has written a novel about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman ever nominated to become president of the United States!

And what a book! My first word was outrageous... But it wasn't about Victoria that I meant it. It was the world in which she lived; it was shocking, appalling, and "almost" too 

"He (her father) was going to take Byron once,"  I say, crying again at the memory of it, "and sell him to the circus."

unbelievable to accept. Except we know that it was probably all true. Flynn openly admits that she chose to write a sympathetic book about Woodhull. I can't blame her. For me, she was a woman who, perhaps, if she lived today, would have already been president! Not a hard statement to make, once you've read her story...  

Winner of the 2016 IPPY Gold Medal for Adult Fiction

The Renegade Queen:
For President

By Eva Flynn

One of the most controversial issues about which Victoria Woodhull spoke about was "free love..." So I thought I would address that first. You see, her father not only physically abused her, but sexually abused her as well (as he did her sister who is also a character in this book.) 

But it was on the discovery of her talent to talk to the dead, by
...Mama call for me, "Victoria!"
I run to Mama. Mama is in a blue and
green plaid dress wringing her hands,
strands of hair falling out of her brunette
bun, making her look either crazy or
"Your chores. We need firewood, and the
meal has to be cooked," Mama says.
"I was playing with Hester, Odessa, and
Mary," I said.
Mama looks at me, clearly taken aback.
"They are dead."
"They are alive in the spirit world. I can
see them," I say.
Mama grabs my shoulders, "Don't
lie to me child."
"I'm not," I say. "You could see them
too, but they are hiding right now."
Mama holds out her hands to the
heavens, "Sweet Jesus, sweet baby Jesus!"
She then rocks back and forth on her
feet and begins speaking the nonsense
tongue talk...Jesus! Hallelujah!"
I watch, entranced, wondering if this
is what Mama did the night I was
Victoria, that things got even worse. Her mother spent much time in prayer, speaking in tongues, concerning this ability. While her father immediately saw it as a money-making "gift."

Victoria and later her sister, were pulled into a monumental scam which was based upon Victoria's ability to speak to the dead...and the more money they made, the worse it became for Victoria and Tennessee. Soon they lost all control of what they were forced to do with their that money kept coming in...

It was that degradation brought about by their father that molded the need, the mandate that they have a right to decide who they loved...and bed... 

Indeed Victoria was rescued from her father by marriage. Both Dr. Canning and Victoria did fall in love, but for Canning, he was really already drink...and prostitutes...

And because women were not allowed to seek divorce, Victoria was once again caught--she had the ability to freely love her husband, who instead turned away, seeking from her only the money she earned to acquire the two obsessions that owned him.

Father smiles and kisses my
forehead. "Girl, your worth has
never been known, but to the
world it will be shown." This is
what Father tells me when he
wants me to do something I do
not want to do...
"Do you want to talk to the dead?"
"A woman like you was meant
for the living...He laughs and
grabs me...
This novel is full of things that have always been important to many that I can't possibly cover them in a review. I can only say that I wish I had know this woman because I know she would have been a friend, and certainly a woman for whom I would have voted!
"Conceived in a canvas brothel at a
Methodist revival, born to a horse thief
and a crazed simpleton, a humbug sold
into marriage, an adulteress mother
with a halfwit. And to think you can
compete with a Vanderbilt..."
Tennessee says.
"Vanderbilt!" James says and stands
up. "That's it, I will introduce you."

Her history of being conceived during a tent revival where, as was the routine--prostitute tents surrounded the main tent to take care of those overcome with emotion?--certainly began an unforgettable life of a woman...who, by design, has been mostly left out of all historical materials except in the fairly recent past.

The point when Victoria becomes involved in politics brings readers more into the historical activities and individuals who were involved at that time. One, in particular, Susan B. Anthony, is portrayed quite differently than anything you may have heard about her in other historical documents. It certainly was entertaining and added to the drama of the book, though some of it may have been added by the author. Still there are elements of truth that comes through for the majority of the book...Eva Flynn has followed history while creating a fascinating, colorful, powerful, compelling and yet sad story of what women were going through before formally given the rights that should have been theirs from the very beginning.

Flynn's novel is obviously based upon extensive research (and includes her references in the back of the book. In her Author's Note she begins: It can take years to recognize a visionary; it can take longer to appreciate the deep sacrifices made in a desperate desire to construct a new work... She notes that she wanted Victoria to finally have a voice of her own--a voice apart from what is left from her own writings and speeches...

It is the opinion of this reader that she has completely succeeded in what she set out to do. And in doing so, she has created the image of a vibrant, intelligent, strong woman who survived...and moved on to greatness, greater greatness than has been achieved since then! A truly exceptional novel...that's why I consider it a must-read for young female adults and older women and, of course, interested men! And a perfect time to read it...before the upcoming election for President!


Some of the gems found in Renegade Queen
Lee Surrenders! The Rebellion Ends!
...All I see are sad young men and
immigrant familites with a mixture
of hope and despair painted on
their faces.

April 15, 1865
Lincoln is assassinated. While
many are in shock, I am not.
Total war is total.

July 7, 1865
Hypocrites. Nothing burns my soul
more than a hypocrite. And politicians
are hypocrites, all of them...

Exclusive privileges. Women do not even
hae non-exclusive privileges and now are
accused of asking for special treatment.
Mr. Walters can rape, beat, stab, and
burn his woman and escape the noose, but
poor old Mary takes some money from
a stranger for a night's lodging and she hangs.
Exclusive privileges.

"Revolution?" James asks.
Before the word "revolution" is out of my
mouth, the air around us grows tense and
heavy. A thousand angels, the same ones
I saw when I was a child, circle around
James and I and form a protective sphere
of white light...

"What kind of vow?"...
"That no child would ever be born into a
troubled marriage. Byron is the way he is
beause his father was an addict when he
was conceived. No woman should be forced
into marriage like I was. We need a
revolution. We must cure the world of its
ills, so no woman has to be forced to
enter or remain in a marriage fraught with

"In all the world, there is no woman
banker," Vanderbilt says. "Fewer
than 100 women in this country own
stocks, even penny stocks."
"Change has to begin at some point
in history, and it might as well
begin with me," I say.
Lobbying is an activity that ladies
do not engage in, for a lobbyist is
the most loathsome individual,
worse than a whore and the moral
equivalent to the filth on the streets.
But if I act like a lady, then I will
have nothing except the kindnesses
afforded a lady. I'll gladly forego
kind words and soft gestures
from strangers in exchange for my

"Glory be! Hallelujah!"
I have found the word that
will change the course of history.
Citizens! I've done it, I've
done it...
"14th Amendment," I say.
"All persons born or naturalized
in the United States are

After a long day of fancy ladies, bears
and bulls, Tennessee and I take a carriage
to Dan Tucker's. As we get out of the
arriage, we notice Mr. Smith, the manager,
yelling at a drunk, dirty vagrant...
Tennessee and I walk into the restaurant,
trying to avoid staring at the man, as there
is no sense in adding to his public
embarassment. Before we can sit down,
Mr. Smith runs over...
"My dear Mrs. Woodhull, my dear Ms.
Claflin,  you are aware that I cannot
possibly serve two women unaccompanied
by a man at night." Mr. Smith says...
I nod and leave Tennessee and Mr. Smith
for one moment...I walk back with the
smelly bum on my arm. We are given a
reception of stares and jeers as his
unfortunate odor fills the tiny establishment.
"Mr. Smith," I say, "soup for three."

"We have too much to do to worry about
what future historians will think? I say. 
"As long as we get the vote, the historians
can cast me as the very devel and my
spirit would be undisturbed."
Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.

And if then the tyrantws dare,
Let them ride among you there;
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew;
What they like, that let them do.

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little far, and less surprise,
look upon them as they slay,
Till their rage has died away.

Then they will return with shame,
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek:

Rise, like lions after slumber
Unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth dew
Which in sleep had fallen you:
Ye are many--they are few!
Written to Victory from Train a supporter... 

Eva was raised on bedtime stories of feminists (the tooth fairy even brought Susan B. Anthony dollars) and daytime lessons on American politics. On one fateful day years ago when knowledge was found on bound paper, she discovered two paragraphs about Victoria Woodhull in the WXYZ volume of the World Book Encyclopedia.

When she realized that neither of her brilliant parents (a conservative political science professor and a liberal feminist) had never heard of her, it was the beginning of a lifelong fascination not only with Victoria Woodhull but in discovering the stories that the history books do not tell.

Brave battles fought, new worlds sought, loves lost all in the name of some future glory have led her to spend years researching the period of Reconstruction. Her first book, The Renegade Queen, explores the forgotten trailblazer Victoria Woodhull and her rivalry with Susan B. Anthony.

Eva was born and raised in Tennessee, earned her B.A. in Political Science from DePauw in Greencastle, Indiana and still lives in Indiana. Eva enjoys reading, classic movies, and travelling. She loves to hear from readers...

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