Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press on June 18, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
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"One day in 1855 Lucy Lobdell cut her hair, changed clothes, and went off to live her life as a man. By the time it was over, she was notorious. TheNew York Times thought her worthy of a lengthy obituary that began “Death of a Modern Diana . . . Dressed in Man’s Clothing She Win’s a Girl’s Love.” The obit detailed what the Times knew of Lucy’s life, from her backwoods upbringing to the dance school she ran disguised as a man, “where she won the love of a young lady scholar.” But that was just the start of the trouble; the Times did not know about Lucy’s arrest and trial for the crime of wearing men’s clothes or her jailbreak engineered by her wife, Marie Perry, to whom she had been married by an unsuspecting judge.
Lucy lived at a time when women did not commonly travel unescorted, carry a rifle, sit down in bars, or have romantic liaisons with other women. Lucy did these things in a personal quest—to work and be paid, to wear what she wanted, and to love whomever she cared to. But to gain those freedoms she had to endure public scorn and wrestle with a sexual identity whose vocabulary had yet to be invented. Lucy promised to write a book about it all, and over the decades, people have searched for that account. Author William Klaber searched also until he decided that the finding would have to be by way of echoes and dreams. This book is Lucy’s story, told in her words as heard and recorded by an upstream neighbor."
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 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 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. What she found, instead, was a life full of opportunities and risks.