Hot Best Seller

The Education of Harriet Hatfield PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

The Education of Harriet Hatfield

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: The Education of Harriet Hatfield .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


The Education of Harriet Hatfield PDF, ePub eBook When Harriet Hatfield opens a bookstore for women in a blue-collar neighborhood near Boston, she is bombarded by anonymous threats. And when the Boston Globe reports "Lesbian Bookstore Owner Threatened", her education in the narrow-mindedness of her fellow man—and woman—begins.

30 review for The Education of Harriet Hatfield

  1. 5 out of 5

    Silvio111

    The Education of Harriet Hatfield is a time capsule of an era (approx 1989) when American feminism (3rd wave, by my count) was on the upswing, AIDS was at its peak, and public opinion toward gays and lesbians was stumbling toward where it is now, 25 years later. The phenomenon of the "women's bookstore" was alive and well. May Sarton's writing style lacks subtlety, her dialogs do more "telling" than "showing," and her characters are not granted much depth. I hate to say it, but the main character The Education of Harriet Hatfield is a time capsule of an era (approx 1989) when American feminism (3rd wave, by my count) was on the upswing, AIDS was at its peak, and public opinion toward gays and lesbians was stumbling toward where it is now, 25 years later. The phenomenon of the "women's bookstore" was alive and well. May Sarton's writing style lacks subtlety, her dialogs do more "telling" than "showing," and her characters are not granted much depth. I hate to say it, but the main character's dog is painted with more affection and believability than any of the other characters. But in spite of these shortcomings from a writer who is mostly revered for her poetry and her journals about living with cancer in rural Maine, still, the story brings back a time that I remember vividly. And at a time when most lesbian fiction was rather clumsy (although lesbians were delighted to have anything at all to read that reflected their lives), this book had the courage and simplicity to portray a 60-year old woman whose 30-year relationship with a much more powerful woman ends with her partner's death, leaving her the opportunity to discover and act upon her own personality at last. The deceased partner, whom we never meet, is described as a woman who never considered how others perceived her, and thus, never acknowledged or experienced any sort of homophobia. The main character (Harriet) acknowledges that since she was protected by the affluent and powerful aura of her partner, she too never considered the issue of the homophobia others might feel toward the partnership of two women. Only once she is on her own, opening a women's bookstore in a neighborhood that is economically challenged, but personally rich with good people does she start to understand how much she was spared all those years. She welcomes the struggle and grows as a person. I found this book interesting because I remember the political discussions at the feminist newsjournal where I worked in the 80s and 90s about whether strong women who did not identify as feminists but who succeeded in a male-dominated arena should truly deserve our respect, since they never raised the feminist flag and communed with their sisters. Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi come to mind. In Harriet, we find a woman who viscerally experiences the transition from sheltered to empowered. As I said, I did not find the writing in this novel of a very high quality. The author had certain phrases she would repeat from time to time to remind us of the nature of certain characters. I found this technique rather sledge-hammer. Nonetheless, for younger people (especially women) who have never experienced a time when women's bookstores existed as a place for women to meet and feel at home (sadly, most have closed due to competition from mainstream and online bookstores as well as apathy from customers), this book paints a pretty accurate picture. May Sarton is no longer with us, and I am grateful she left this memento of these times.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    I found this book to be charming and endearing. After Harriet's loss of her lifelong partner Vickie, she begins to realize how dependent and sheltered her life was in that relationship. She never regrets being with Vickie as she is the love of her life and always will be however she starts to step outside of her comfort zone and opens a feminist bookstore in a diverse but somewhat conservative area. With a few threats and attacks on her opening such a place, she never stops remembering why she w I found this book to be charming and endearing. After Harriet's loss of her lifelong partner Vickie, she begins to realize how dependent and sheltered her life was in that relationship. She never regrets being with Vickie as she is the love of her life and always will be however she starts to step outside of her comfort zone and opens a feminist bookstore in a diverse but somewhat conservative area. With a few threats and attacks on her opening such a place, she never stops remembering why she wanted the bookstore, to provide a safe place for women to come together and communicate, share ideas and offer eachother support. This "third place" as we sometimes hear it referred to, has always been taken for granted by men as they have the local pub or bar down the street and "boys night out". Harriet felt the need of this type of community for women and even after a tragic event occurs, she never stops believing she's done the right thing. She meets a diverse group of people, men and women, that come to her with their problems and often times she feels like a counselor. I think it might be the first time in her life she's felt needed and liked for being herself and not in Vickie's shadow. In this book, I saw how tough it must have been back then to come out and be gay, to call yourself a Lesbian and not fear for the loss your job, the loss of your family and friends right down to the loss of yourself. I would highly recommend this book to those that feel they are swimming upstream and discriminated against. In the end, we are much more alike than different inside.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Orla Hegarty

    My 75 yo Mum raved about this recently and couldn't believe that she had never heard of this author before. My Mum is a feminist and it is kind of shocking that by 1989 the "lavender menace" had erased fiction writing about lesbians from the mainstream so completely. This book helped me understand why and how that happened. Even the (lesbian) author herself has the protagonist state and show that (straight) women are violent to lesbians (which is so rare it is laughable that this is a key plot p My 75 yo Mum raved about this recently and couldn't believe that she had never heard of this author before. My Mum is a feminist and it is kind of shocking that by 1989 the "lavender menace" had erased fiction writing about lesbians from the mainstream so completely. This book helped me understand why and how that happened. Even the (lesbian) author herself has the protagonist state and show that (straight) women are violent to lesbians (which is so rare it is laughable that this is a key plot point in the book). But the 80s were like that. Lots of news bites made us have stereotypes fed into us without questions because it was the news (ie truth), right? The book is especially seminal due to Ms. Sarton's attempt to be intersectional in the very same year that the term intersectionality was coined by notable feminist academic Kimberlé Crenshaw. The writing style of the book was clunky and the fact that she was primarily a poet might explain her tendency to tell rather than show the plot when writing in the form of a novel. If you are interested in north american feminist #herstory then you really should check this out.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pascale

    I found this book both enjoyable and thought-provoking. Many people reviewing it on Goodreads found it repetitive, but in my view the repetitions are part and parcel of Sarton's literary technique. The subject of the book is Harriet's reinvention of herself at 60, when she finds herself a widow all of sudden. For 30 years, she lived in the shadow of a richer and more powerful woman, Vicki, whose lead she followed in every respect. Now that she is on her own and has inherited a fair amount of mon I found this book both enjoyable and thought-provoking. Many people reviewing it on Goodreads found it repetitive, but in my view the repetitions are part and parcel of Sarton's literary technique. The subject of the book is Harriet's reinvention of herself at 60, when she finds herself a widow all of sudden. For 30 years, she lived in the shadow of a richer and more powerful woman, Vicki, whose lead she followed in every respect. Now that she is on her own and has inherited a fair amount of money from Vicki, she decides to open a feminist bookstore in a mixed neighborhood. This leads her to admit publicly for the first time that she is a lesbian, which creates shock waves among her old friends, and antagonizes some members of her new community. The book dissects her reasons for making all these choices, and that's why, for most of the book, she ponders the same issues, and explains herself over and over again to a variety of more or less sympathetic people. What I liked about this book is the realistic way in which Harriet's encounters with a wide variety of friends, customers and relatives are described. In life, when you make a controversial decision, you find you have to defend yourself over and over again. But each of these confrontations makes its mark on Harriet, and contributes to her evolution from passive helpmate to some sort of informal community leader. Vicki's death has left her vulnerable, lonely and bereft, but has also liberated her and given her a new lease of life. Leaving behind her moneyed ghetto, Harriet takes on new challenges and goes through many emotions. Sarton's depiction of the inner turmoil of this feisty old lady is never less than moving. It's interesting too that a great deal of the plot revolves about homophobic attacks perpetrated against Harriet and her dog, but at the end of the day, the motives behind the most serious assault are extremely complex and involve an element of class warfare.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I enjoyed this book a lot. Not a huge page-turner...just a slow-paced, enjoyable book. May Sarton has extraordinarily taken just plain old life and chronicled everyday conversations without it being dull and boring. There is a lot of introspection in this book, and perhaps that's why I like it particularly right now, as I'm in an introspective mood. The main character is a woman who has lost her partner of 30 years, and has decided to open a feminist bookstore. Of course, when you do any major u I enjoyed this book a lot. Not a huge page-turner...just a slow-paced, enjoyable book. May Sarton has extraordinarily taken just plain old life and chronicled everyday conversations without it being dull and boring. There is a lot of introspection in this book, and perhaps that's why I like it particularly right now, as I'm in an introspective mood. The main character is a woman who has lost her partner of 30 years, and has decided to open a feminist bookstore. Of course, when you do any major undertaking I think there are many reactions that you could never have foreseen, and she gets many of those. But one thing she must face is that she is a lesbian, which strangely enough, she has never thought of herself as. And all that entails is what she must deal with. She decides in the end that she has nothing to lose (or relatively little) and must speak on behalf of those who have too much to lose that they wouldn't speak up. This book was written in 1992, and it does show its age. Hopefully we have gotten better with our attitudes towards minorities in general. But most of what is written in these pages is just as true now as ever.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    I enjoyed this book so much. Very low-key writing, but very well thought-out. Probably it helps that I have read several other books of hers. She touches on so many issues, from homosexuality and homophobia, to class differences; noting that racism is similar to sex discrimination. Most interesting was her comment that, during the 30 years she [the main character] was in a relationship, her life centered around that relationship. And after her partner died, she felt very alone, and yet found tha I enjoyed this book so much. Very low-key writing, but very well thought-out. Probably it helps that I have read several other books of hers. She touches on so many issues, from homosexuality and homophobia, to class differences; noting that racism is similar to sex discrimination. Most interesting was her comment that, during the 30 years she [the main character] was in a relationship, her life centered around that relationship. And after her partner died, she felt very alone, and yet found that only then did she have time to "be there" for other people, for friends. As an editor I often want to "fix up" her English [French was her mother tongue], but it doesn't interfere with her message. October 2016: This book was on my to-read shelf and I read it, often thinking I had probably read it before, so much seemed familiar, yet I had not remembered the plot line. Enjoyable to read and ponder. My take on it is unchanged, I see. One could talk or ponder for hours on issues raised on nearly every page of the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm

    This book is my first venture into May Sarton's fiction; I've enjoyed her poetry and especially her memoirs over the years. The book is an exploration of topics of gay life, including coming out of the closet and AIDS, both within the larger issue of public reaction to gay people in their midst. It was important to remember this story was written in the late 1980's, when these were especially hot topics, and a diagnosis of AIDS was a death sentence. The story is immensely readable and provides a This book is my first venture into May Sarton's fiction; I've enjoyed her poetry and especially her memoirs over the years. The book is an exploration of topics of gay life, including coming out of the closet and AIDS, both within the larger issue of public reaction to gay people in their midst. It was important to remember this story was written in the late 1980's, when these were especially hot topics, and a diagnosis of AIDS was a death sentence. The story is immensely readable and provides an accurate picture of the time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    The Education of Harriet Hatfield was a very good book. It was written in 1990 and is still, unfortunately, relevant for today as it tackles homophobia, race, and the fear of the 'other'. The most refreshing part of the book was how well-differentiated Harriet functioned under a wide variety of stressors. She also allowed herself to feel deeply around grief, anger, and the new adventure of doing something she'd always dreamed of doing. This is an inspiriting read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diane C.

    An interesting, gently paced and written story from the early 90's, of Harriet, who has recently lost her successful, publisher life partner, Vicky. And who opens a women's bookstore in Boston, Mass, causing some controversy in the neighborhood. I liked this book very much, for calmly and still emotionally tackling issues surrounding gay people and wanting to be accepted not as "gay" person, but just as a person.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Totally enjoyed this book about a 60 year old reinventing her life after a long term relationship. When her partner dies she begins to explore her true self and begins building and creating her dream by opening a women's specialty bookstore in a small town. She comes up against serious adversity and finds personal strength and new friendships and much support along the way. Good Read !

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wisewebwoman

    Opening Line: How rarely is it possible for anyone to begin a new life at sixty? Harriet's long time brilliant partner has died leaving her comfortable. And bored. She decides to open a women's bookstore. This was a marvellous read of her journey and the hate and prejudice that she surmounts being an outed lesbian in an era 38 years ago (and still, alas) where such things were condemned. Unputdownable. Loved Harriet.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    Disappointing. May Sarton is excellent at writing journals and memoir. This novel features a lesbian who always thought "lesbian" was a dirty word. When her rich lover dies, Harriet inherits enough money to start a woman's book store. She is the target of vandals who commit a crime of violence because they think she sells porn. Harriet repeats the same thing over and over and over about how she had been in a relationship for thirty years but they never thought of themselves as lesbians. Some of Disappointing. May Sarton is excellent at writing journals and memoir. This novel features a lesbian who always thought "lesbian" was a dirty word. When her rich lover dies, Harriet inherits enough money to start a woman's book store. She is the target of vandals who commit a crime of violence because they think she sells porn. Harriet repeats the same thing over and over and over about how she had been in a relationship for thirty years but they never thought of themselves as lesbians. Some of the relationships are not explored and some relationships form too quickly. For instance, her brother becomes caretaker of a man with AIDS who he just met. A man who Harriet has been friends with for about two weeks, then all of a sudden she suggests that her brother go take care of him. And we see nothing to suggest that the brother has any caretaking qualities.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Victoria S.

    I wanted to like this book but was disappointed. The beginning was interesting:a 61 year old gay woman opens a feminists' book store after her partner of 30 years dies. The problem I had with it was the redundancy. The main character is constantly having the same thoughts and feelings with little change by the end. I finally skimmed to the ending, which was flat. The tension of the plot, threats made by homophobes, is too easily resolved and the main character's response is emotionless and unrea I wanted to like this book but was disappointed. The beginning was interesting:a 61 year old gay woman opens a feminists' book store after her partner of 30 years dies. The problem I had with it was the redundancy. The main character is constantly having the same thoughts and feelings with little change by the end. I finally skimmed to the ending, which was flat. The tension of the plot, threats made by homophobes, is too easily resolved and the main character's response is emotionless and unrealistic. The writing,published in 1989 and written by an elderly woman,feels dated. Wish I'd spent the time reading something else. Wish I hadn't bought it. Oh well. Recommended by a friend. However, I can use this as an example of flaws to remove/avoid in my own writing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephkay

    This reminded me quite a lot of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, right down to the title and the almost meandering story. Not in sense of “non-linear” or “wasting my time” but in a storytelling sense. Definitely a novel for those who like reading a book that represents its times (i.e. it's dated): Yes, obviously, let’s encourage women who are abused to go back to their abusive husbands. No, of course, women who start an unwanted pregnancy (with the abuser) should not get abortions. I wo This reminded me quite a lot of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, right down to the title and the almost meandering story. Not in sense of “non-linear” or “wasting my time” but in a storytelling sense. Definitely a novel for those who like reading a book that represents its times (i.e. it's dated): Yes, obviously, let’s encourage women who are abused to go back to their abusive husbands. No, of course, women who start an unwanted pregnancy (with the abuser) should not get abortions. I won’t even start with the issues the book presents about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS, which are two of the book’s main themes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This novel is way too redundant with often choppy dialogue (and, at times, choppy narration). Sarton has some nice things to say, but the problem is that the people who will read this book will already agree with her and the people who should read this book won't read it. Additionally, it was clear she wrote the story with the express purpose of fitting the subject she wanted to "preach" about; it was not a smooth marriage of plot and theme. I was ready to like this one, so I'm a tad disappointe This novel is way too redundant with often choppy dialogue (and, at times, choppy narration). Sarton has some nice things to say, but the problem is that the people who will read this book will already agree with her and the people who should read this book won't read it. Additionally, it was clear she wrote the story with the express purpose of fitting the subject she wanted to "preach" about; it was not a smooth marriage of plot and theme. I was ready to like this one, so I'm a tad disappointed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This review says it all for me. Lovely, easy reading. "I enjoyed this book a lot. Not a huge page-turner...just a slow-paced, enjoyable book. May Sarton has extraordinarily taken just plain old life and chronicled everyday conversations without it being dull and boring. There is a lot of introspection in this book, and perhaps that's why I like it particularly right now, as I'm in an introspective mood."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eliz

    Generously gifted to me by a family member, and enjoyed for that reason. A well-meaning but not well-written story of a woman who comes out and comes into her own in her 60's. Repetitive and in need of good editing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Douris

    Another great book by Ms. Sarton! This is not a journal but fiction. An outcast Lesbian opens a book store for women in New England. Just read and see how the community reacts to her. Have we really come that far???

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I gleaned so little enjoyment from this book that I can't even muster the energy to properly review it. Definitely not Sarton's best. (Probably her worst.)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book was wonderful. I would love to own my own bookstore or have a reading room. The woman in this book does just that but with a few struggles I would not have to deal with.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    well to do lesbian struggles to open and run a book shop in Boston in the mid 1900s. Interesting Sarton, not memoir, but clearly based on herself in many aspects.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J. Robin Whitley

    I love this book because of how it shows an older woman continues to grow. Sarton also does a great job of showing the importance of women supporting women.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daisy

    Why ever do I remember the cat? And why does an animal in distress affect me more than a person in distress?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Abramowitz

    I found this book to have a very slow and boring story line. The character of Harriet doesn't come across as believable to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert Dunbar

    Significant charm, but the rather delicate characters and situations are overwhelmed by the dialectic (which prevents it from being truly first rate). Still quite involving though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Absolutely great - it really looks at the question of labels!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan Emmet

    Although I was most drawn to the character of Patapouf the dog whose existence is best captured by Sarton, she lays out the fear and trembling facing homosexuals in the late 80s in the wake of AIDS. Sarton also captures several human characters aptly and clearly - Sue Bagley, Nan, Martha and others. However, I found myself wishing for Sarton's poetry and memoirs which, for me, were glistening with awareness and clarity. This novel doesn't rise to her other work, but it is still well worth reading Although I was most drawn to the character of Patapouf the dog whose existence is best captured by Sarton, she lays out the fear and trembling facing homosexuals in the late 80s in the wake of AIDS. Sarton also captures several human characters aptly and clearly - Sue Bagley, Nan, Martha and others. However, I found myself wishing for Sarton's poetry and memoirs which, for me, were glistening with awareness and clarity. This novel doesn't rise to her other work, but it is still well worth reading given the length and breadth of her working career.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    In reading this for a book club, I was surprised at how current the topics in the book feel though it was published in 1989. I enjoyed the story and wanted to take note of some of the remarks that the main character makes. I see that some of the reviewers remark on the lack of subtlety in her writing but I found it refreshing not to have to work too hard to consider and reflect on aspects of the human condition and behavior that the author brings to our attention.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ariadna

    Very sweet and heart warming book. Touched controversial and quite unique issues in a very delightful manner. Definetley reccommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Ehh, just couldn't get excited enough about an elderly lesbian running a bookstore to finish.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.