Divining Women, written by Kate Gibbons is a novel set in the early 1900’s during the Influenza outbreak.

Spanish Flu Pandemic 1918
Antique 1910s Influenza Photograph

A strong woman leading a woman who has been made weak through an emotionally abusive relationship should be an empowering and inspirational read. Mary, the young single and strong niece through marriage and Maureen, the pregnant Aunt, who is emotionally sick and worn down from a horrible husband should be just the characters. However, I closed the book feeling like I didn’t really know either one of them.

Friends Sepia Tone Photograph 1900s
Antique Photo of Women

I however, was more interested in the Grandpa, who is mentioned occasionally through the book as a free-spirited nudist with ghosts in his home. And I  wanted to know more behind the scenes into the lives of the help that took care of the home Maureen lived in.

Black and White Vintage Photo
Antique 1900’s Ghost Photograph

Poor Maureen suffered greatly at the hands of her husband, even succumbing to cruel mental health procedures, which really were more torture than healthful in my opinion and still I felt like, “Poor Maureen,” I didn’t really care all that much about her. Not because of her sadness or emotional illness, but more because her character just felt flat to me.

The Pathway To Mental and Physical Perfection 1904 Health Book
VIVILORE Antique Book

Mary, on the other had tried hard to be spirited and fought to be a person alive in the pages, but like any actress, playing against someone who is lifeless is not a win, even if you are having your best performance.

I did like the way Gibbon’s painted a picture of the surroundings for me and since the character’s left behind in the beginning pages interested me so much, I would try another of her books. I think Gibbon’s and I just had a differing opinion on which of her characters should be in the spotlight.

Kaye Gibbons Divining WOmen
Divining Women Book

Although Divining Women, was not a favorite for me, two of Gibbon’s books were part of Oprah’s Book Club. A Virtuous Woman and Ellen Foster, which are the books I think I will pick up this summer and give it a go. Have you read this book or any other’s by Kaye Gibbons? I would love to hear what you thought.

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