Next Friday Wonder Woman makes her long anticipated big screen debut. Many people know about Wonder Woman – she’s a goddess, she’s a feminist, she’s powerful, – but the popular image of her ends there. While she’s been a comic book character for 75 years, the fact of the matter is that very few people have actually read all, or even most, of her comics. Let alone her numerous TV appearances (both live action and cartoon).
So, where is a person to turn if they want to know more about Wonder Woman? Especially if they want to learn more about the context in which she was created? The answer is, of course, a book.
There are two books about Wonder Woman and her origins that were written somewhat recently. Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley and The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. Which one you should read depends on how in depth you want to go.
Hanley’s book is a quick read that glosses over some of the details and attempts to sensationalize others. The book is just 300 pages and the writing is breezy and easy to read. If you just want a taste of Wonder Woman’s history and development as a character, this book is the one for you.
If, instead, you’d rather get a detailed look at every possible influence behind the creator of Wonder Woman, then Lepore’s book is the one you should read. The book starts off with the parents of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and traces the strands of influence from the Suffragette movement to Wonder Woman. Everything about Wonder Woman is accounted for. From her clothes to her weapons to her all female society.
Can’t decide which of these books to read? You could always do what I did and read both. It’s interesting to read two books on the same topic and see where they agree and where they diverge. While there is a lot of overlap in information between the two books, the author’s distinctive voices makes reading them together anything but boring.
You can find these books and more at your local library.
Good Time Coming by C. S. Harris
4 stars out of 5
I was enchanted by this book from start to finish; the author’s melodious prose captivated me from the first page to the last, the lyricism of which gave this book a mesmerizing effect. The language is amazingly beautiful throughout and has a uniquely haunting quality that sets the tone for the entire story. I fell in love with the book after the first three paragraphs and just couldn’t put it down.
Set during the Civil War this book takes a hard look at what it means to be a woman during that time. As the Federal troops advance through the South things grow increasingly difficult for those left behind, the women, the people of color (both free and slave), the immigrants and the elderly.
Written in believable and natural dialect this book tells the story of a young teen who is coming of age as the war ravages her homeland. The author is careful and detailed in her writing, she doesn’t preach about how right the South was, or how slavery was actually beneficial to those who were enslaved. She does, however, write about the people, and what it was like to live among them, and what they did to stay strong as the war raged about them. She populates her world with a wide variety of people and gives the reader a hint at what the antebellum South might have actually been like. Communities weren’t separated into oppressive plantation owners and oppressed slaves, there was a lot more nuance than that, and the author draws out the nuance beautifully.
I only have a few qualms about this book, there are a couple of plot points that are mentioned late in the game but left unresolved in the end. It seems, too, that the author was trying very hard to establish the main white characters as non-racist and pro abolition, to the point that it seemed like she tried a little too hard. What’s more is that even though there are several black characters in the story, they are all free, all of the people who are enslaved are so minor as to be virtually nonexistent, and I think this is an oversight that robs the narrative of its depth.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing is superb and the perspective is fresh for the most part. It’s nice to see a story that focuses on the women and their lives, instead of on the generals and the wars. I think the author did a great job with this book and look forward to reading more of her.