The Girl Pretending to Read Rilke is a coming-of-age novel set in a biology lab in the summer of 1963 in Boston. Both the heroine, 19-year-old Bronwen, and America are suffering growing pains and soon all the standards of the past will be shattered as the Pill and the war in Vietnam change people's expectations forever. A shocking telegram forces Bronwen to choose between family and the temptations of a dazzling future in science.
"Barbara Riddle has given us a sharp, funny glimpse into a little-explored moment in women's recent history. The year is 1963, the same year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique. Brave young women were heading out from college and looking for lives very different from those their mothers had lived. My excitement about The Girl Pretending to Read Rilke stems in part from the fact that I was there- heading for graduate school in science in 1963. I recognize Riddle's heroine Bronwen for her spirit of adventure as well as her sometimes crippling self-doubts (carefully nourished by the all-too-realistic boyfriend-from-hell). Today's 20-somethings will recognize her as a woman struggling, like themselves, for personal coherence in a world that still has difficulty seeing us as complete and entire human beings."
-Barbara Ehrenreich (author, Nickel and Dimed)