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The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell Hardcover – June 18, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 204 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In THE REBELLION OF MISS LUCY ANN LOBDELL,William Klaber takes us on high-spirited journey of joy and hardship through a 19th century America that few of us could have ever imagined. Lucy Lobdell seems destined to live out a life of adventure from the moment she crosses over into a forbidden and secret world. Beautifully told, by the time I finished I felt I knew not only Lucy, but had a far better understanding of the America of her times. A first class novel about an truly unforgettable woman.” ―Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country

“William Klaber has created a complicated and heartbreaking heroine, or do I mean hero? Whether Lucy is living as a man or a woman, working as a music teacher or a hired gun, I was utterly absorbed in her adventures. A wonderful debut.” ―Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street and The Flight of Gemma Hardy

“A superb novel. I feel as if I have walked through 19th century America at Lucy's side, celebrated and grieved with her. Klaber tells the story of her adventures with grace and invisible artistry. This is beautiful retelling of a remarkable story, and a fitting tribute to its subject.” ―Imogen Robertson, author of The Paris Winter

“So dead-on it's uncanny . . . an early contender for the year's 'best' lists.” ―Booklist, starred review

“An important book that will take its rightful place in the annals of quality historical fiction.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“A personal narrative about the freedom to live outside the box into which even the unruly frontier wanted to put her . . . a becoming, a mind trying to grasp its own identity and build a life in the face of an uncomprehending world.” ―Historical Novel Society

“Deeply satisfying historical novel” ―New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

William Klaber is a part-time journalist. He lives in upstate New York on a hill overlooking Basket Creek, a short way upstream from where Lucy Lobdell lived 160 years ago.

The farmhouse he bought with his wife, Jean, in 1980 had a history with Lucy's legend, but he didn't know that till years later when he sat down for breakfast with a longtime local historian who told him Lucy's story and showed him a leather satchel filled with recollections, newspaper articles, and letters about her, gathered over the years. In this collection was a copy of a self-written account of Lucy's early life that the historian had found in an unmarked box in a library basement.

Despite his continued searching, the historian never found the memoir that Lucy had promised to write. Explaining that he had always thought to write a book of his own about Lucy but no longer felt up to it, the historian then handed the satchel to the author.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press; First Edition edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608325628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608325627
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was previously acquainted with the story of Lucy Lobdell before it became the subject of interest among scholars. I have been the family surname genealogist since 1980, and have often been asked for any details I had of her life. William Klaber has done a masterful job of fictionalizing her story. The most impressive aspect of his work is the way he developed Lucy's own personal transition of consciousness about her gender identification. He did it with a delicate respect for what had to be a troubling realization for her. Lucy's introspection about the status of women in her time is one we can all appreciate and learn from. It can teach us that differences among human beings is constant and ever deserving of understanding and compassion. Even though the story is fictionalized, I believe Klaber captured the essence of Lucy's life and an autobiography she always intended to write. Many will thank the author for this gift.
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Format: Hardcover
Honestly, I don't know how to begin to explain how much I enjoyed reading this book. It is a fictionalized history of a person who actually lived. Lucy Ann Lobdell was born in the early 1800′s and her story is amazing. Klaber does a great job of mixing fact with how Lucy would have acted.

Lucy was married and had a daughter, Helen. Her husband became abusive so she moved in with her family and he went his own way. Lucy, though, was not a typical woman. She was the type to go hunting and spend a large number of her hours in the woods, wearing men's clothing. After a while she decided life with her family was not how she wanted to live. She wanted to be able to provide for her daughter, who was still rather young at this point. So she left, as Joseph Lobdell. She cut her hair and started wearing men's clothing full time. When she found her first employment, no one ever realized she was anyone other than Joseph, a man. Although, she did get in to trouble a few times when people found out who she really was.

The story Klaber weaves is taken from letters, newspapers, and other historical documents. Having been an History Major is college, I find some historical fiction to take too many liberties with their characters and historical events. It is one of the reasons I don't read Historical Fiction very much anymore, because I know what really happened and find myself disappointed or mad at the author. From what I can tell Klaber did his research. Be advised that there is no way to tell what a person was thinking, but given enough reading about their life and letters they have written, you can come extremely close.
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Format: Hardcover
What a cool book! I know that's an odd description for a novel, especially one that falls into the historical fiction category, but I just can't think of a better word. This book is just soooo cool. And incredible. And wonderfully written. And you know what's even cooler than the book? The story about how it came to be! (see video below)

The Background

The author, William Klaber, fell into the remarkable story of Lucy Ann Lobdell quite accidentally. In the early 1980′s, he and his wife bought a house in Basket Creek, NY. Twenty years later, a researcher named Jack Niflot (who was intending to write a book about Lucy ) called up Klaber and wanted to meet for lunch. He then told Klaber that not only was his house rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Lucy Ann Lobdell (who Klaber was clueless about), but he handed over all of his research on her to Klaber. You see, Niflot was going to write a book about Lucy but was no longer feeling up to it. Klaber, he believed, was the right man for the task. And thus, a story was born! Can you believe it? Luckily for the rest of the world, the research was handed over to someone capable of weaving such a great tale.

The Book

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell follows the real-life Lucy (Joseph) Lobdell as she makes her way through the world living as a man. Left pregnant and penniless by her husband, Lucy was forced to move back in with her parents and siblings. Frustrated at being unable to provide for her daughter, Helen, Lucy snuck out of her family home in search of "mens work" that would allow her to build a better life for her and her daughter. Lucy had every intention of working for a short period of time, purchasing some land, and bringing her daughter to live with her.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lucy Lobdell finds 19th-century Basket Creek, New York oppressive and goes forth into the world to live as she feels most natural - as a man. She crops her hair, binds her chest, dresses in trousers and passes - for the most part - as Joseph Lobdell, a dance instructor and fiddle player.

William Klaber has done a masterful job of immersing the reader into the sights, sounds and smells of mid-1800s Honesdale, Pennsylvania: the stale-beer saloons and sweating political meetings, the joy and pain of blooming love. On to Manannah, Minnesota to work as a hired gun on the western frontier, living in a cold, remote cabin and surviving on whatever game she can shoot. The characters Lucy encounters run the gamut from rough tavern-keepers and poker players to refined country doctors and lawyers. And women. In her pose as a man, Lucy attracts the hearts of women.

Klaber's Lucy narrates in a voice that reflects the age: a bit formal, expressing her insecurity over passing for a man but secure in her knowledge of who she is. Lucy's voice is always honest, even as she lives what others consider a lie. This fictional memoir could have come directly from aged, yellowing pages written in flowing cursive by the subject herself.

From the moment I entered Lucy's world I didn't want to leave it. I didn't want to stop reading at night; I wanted to skip work the next morning to find out what happens next. This is the most engrossing novel I've read in a long, long time.
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