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A Woman's Place: A Novel Paperback – November 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an engrossing read, three-time Christy Award–winner Austin (All She Ever Wanted; Hidden Places) explores the lives of four women in smalltown Michigan during WWII. The unlikely quartet of heroines—a mouthy Italian, a farm girl desperate to go to college, a spinster schoolteacher who's inherited a fortune, and a bored housewife—meet and become fast friends when they take Rosie the Riveter jobs at a local factory. On one level, the novel is simply about the bonds that form among the principals, recalling Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt and Lynne Hinton's Friendship Cake. But the subtext, as the title suggests, is about gender roles. Can and should women defy their husbands? What does the Bible say about wifely obedience? Such questions present themselves urgently to each of the four protagonists (and, one imagines, to many of Austin's female evangelical readers). Austin sprinkles some lovely images throughout—a newborn's fingernails "like drops of candle wax"—and a humorous depiction of inadvertently tipsy church ladies will have readers in stitches. All in all, Austin offers a very enjoyable journey to an earlier wartime America. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...a nice book club read with its conversation starters about racism, gender roles, overcoming a difficult past, and forgiveness." -- Cindy Crosby, faithfulreader.com

"A Woman's Place is a thought-provoking, eye-opening and worthwhile piece of World War II Americana." -- Violet Nesdoly, blogcritics.org

"A Woman's Place is a tribute to all women who sacrificed so much... during the World War II era." -- Rel Mollet, relzreviews.blogspot.com

"A very compelling story, A Woman's Place has found a place on my 'keeper' shelves." -- RomanceDesigns.com

"I found this book extremely well-written and it draws you into the lives of these four women." -- Holly Bowers, 1340Mag.com

"This was a very satisfying book." -- Debra Kiefat, armchairinterviews.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764228900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764228902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In December 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor causing widespread panic and devastation. President Roosevelt meets with high-level Washington officials and is expected to ask Congress to declare war. While the President is getting ready to declare war, every home in Seneca, Michigan is focused on the radio, listening intently to news reports for updates on what the United States plans to do.

A Woman's Place is about four women who answer the call to do something useful related to the war effort.

Virginia, an easily intimated housewife, breaks the mode of what an ideal housewife is, according to her husband, or so she thinks. Neither she nor her husband is prepared for the confident and strong woman she becomes.

Rosa is street wise and newly married to a sailor she barely knows. Living with her in-laws in a household with demanding rules, she discovers love and acceptance, despite her fiery nature.

Helen is lonely and elderly. A former school teacher, she is met with the skepticism that she is capable of menial work, however it is this call to the war effort that forces her to face her fears and befriend these women.

Jean is a natural leader and a twin. Her desire to become the woman God wants her to be collides with what her boyfriend wants in a wife. There has to be more to a partnership than just having babies and running a household.

This was a very satisfying book. Lynn Austin captured the call to arms through the lives of these women who wanted to participate in the war effort. Each of their stories reflects how they faced discrimination and conflict in a time when the roles of men and women were changing.

Armchair Interviews says: Unusual look at WWII from a woman's perspective.
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Format: Paperback
Prolific author, Lynn Austin, well know for her biblical and American Civil War novels brings to life the early 1940's to tell the story of four woman whose lives are forever changed by the Second World War.

Four women, brought together by America's call for women to aid the war effort, take jobs at the Stockton Shipworks and train in electronics. Newly married Rosa wants to escape the disapproval of her parents-in-law while her husband Dirk fights overseas, Jean, the youngest, dreams of going to college, Helen is all alone after the death of her elderly parents and the wealth left to her is simply not enough and Virginia is desperately afraid she has become nothing more than a "servant" to her husband and sons. Working as a team the women discover that their differences are not enough to stand in the way of friendship. They discover abilities previously untapped and challenges never before experienced. When tragedy strikes and prejudice threatens to separate them these women find strength and hope in eachother and discover that faith and friendship is truly enough to overcome all things.

Lynn Austin has written a beautiful novel that held my interest throughout all of its 446 pages. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the characters but this is not a distraction or hard to follow. Despite finding Virginia's timidity irritating in the early chapters she soon developed into a character I understood more as her personality and circumstances were revealed. The remaining three characters were fascinating and believable and while from another era, their hopes, fears and challenges were easy to relate to. The author transports you to the 1940's with relevant detail and obviously impeccable research.
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Format: Paperback
A Woman's Place follows four women: Helen, Jean, Rosa and Ginnie --- all working Rosie-the-Riveter jobs in Northern Michigan during the Second World War. Each represents a different type likewise a different strength of woman: Rose is a fiery new wife of Italian origin who leaves Brooklyn to settle with her strict inlaws when her husband is shipped overseas; Helen is a middle-aged teacher and heir to a large fortune ---the only lasting member of a large family. Her past love life is explored and carries more than one surprise. If Rosa is the free-spirit, Helen is, at first glance, the stick-in-the-mud. Jean is a fresh-faced woman--- just 18 at the start of the novel, who yearns to go to college against the wishes of her All-American jock boyfriend. Her friendship with Earl the foreman at her ship-building factory job is the highlight of the novel; Ginnie is a stay-at-home mom whose war-time employment she hides from her keeping-up-with-the-Jones's huband. Ginnie yearns to discover that her value lay outside the conformity of a housewife ensconced in appearances of domestic norms. At one point, she is assured that the dog is the only member of the household who holds any affection for her.

The novel begins with a snapshot of the quartet in their respective pre-war lives nicely developing characters who will grow into dear friends as the pages progress. When the attack at Pearl Harbour hits, their lives are uprooted and the narrative continually rotates to each perspective of women-at-war.

The novel is at times funny, heartbreaking and warm. A scene where Rosa accidentaly spikes the punch bowl with vodka intoxicating her mother-in-law's church women's group had me in stitches.

The structure of the novel also works extremely well.
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