The Wrong Kind of Woman
In late 1970, Oliver Desmarais drops dead in his front yard while hanging Christmas lights. In the year that follows, his widow, Virginia, struggles to find her place on the campus of Clarendon College, the elite men’s college where Oliver was a professor. While Virginia had always shared her husband’s prejudices against the four outspoken, never-married women on the faculty—dubbed The Gang of Four by their male counterparts—she now finds herself depending on them, even joining their work to bring the women’s movement to Clarendon.
Meanwhile, Virginia’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Rebecca, is adrift in a world without her dad and hates the woman her mother is becoming. And junior Sam Waxman, reeling from the death of his favorite professor, falls in love with a magnetic activist bent on effecting change by any means necessary.
Soon, reports of violent protests across the country reach this sleepy New England town, stirring tensions between the fraternal establishment of Clarendon and those calling for change. As authorities attempt to tamp down “radical elements,” Virginia must decide whether she’s willing to put herself and her family at risk for a cause that had never felt like her own.
Told through alternating perspectives, The Wrong Kind of Woman is an engrossing story of grief and renewal, of shedding old identities and finding new ways to belong, beautifully woven against the backdrop of the rapid changes of the early Seventies.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (October 6, 2020)
“How could I not devour a book set in my favorite era, the 1970s? About family, marriage, love and grief and a country in the turbulent flux of change, The Wrong Kind of Woman limns the lives of a stunned widow, her daughter, and a lonely college student as they all struggle to come to terms with death—and life—against the backdrop of an all-male college during the Vietnam war, Kent State, the drug culture, and the first heady rise of the women’s movement. Absolutely fabulous.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World
“The Wrong Kind of Woman is the right kind of book. A beautifully written exploration of loss, the novel captures its characters at the cusp of personal and social change. Sarah McCraw Crow deftly navigates the campus and national politics of the ‘70s in a way that remains timely and pressing today. A powerful, thought-provoking debut.”
—Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays
“Sarah McCraw Crow brings to life the early days of the women’s movement through the character of Virginia, the widow of a faculty member at an elite all-boys college in New England in the early 1970s. The Wrong Kind of Woman is the story we need now: one which examines systemic sexism through not only a historical filter but via rich and authentic characters. Virginia’s struggle echoes the struggle of so many women, throughout history.”
—T. Greenwood, author of Keeping Lucy
“Sarah McCraw Crow’s writing is layered with so much insight and compassion. A glorious debut filled with characters grasping to find a place to belong in a world on the edge of change.”
—Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I’m Home
“A professor’s death wrenches his wife and daughter into a new world as they join women fighting for equality in the early seventies, a time when elite education is cracking open by those knocking down single-gender barriers. The Wrong Kind of Woman explores the strength women found to stop papering over the glaring flaws in the world and live with eyes wide open with grace and honesty.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, author of Waisted
The Wrong Kind of Woman is exactly the right kind of book for all of us.”
—Abby Frucht, author of Maids
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