“A glorious debut filled with characters grasping to find a place to belong in a world on the edge of change.” —Carol Rifka Brunt, New York Times bestselling author of Tell the Wolves I’m Home
“McCraw Crow deftly navigates the campus and national politics of the ’70s in a way that remains timely and pressing today. A powerful, thought-provoking debut.” —Amy Meyerson, Nationally bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays
A powerful exploration of what a woman can be when what she should be is no longer an option
In late 1970, Oliver Desmarais drops dead in his front yard while hanging Christmas lights. In the year that follows, his widow, Virginia, struggles to find her place on the campus of the elite New Hampshire men’s college where Oliver was a professor. While Virginia had always shared her husband’s prejudices against the four outspoken, never-married women on the faculty—dubbed the Gang of Four by their male counterparts—she now finds herself depending on them, even joining their work to bring the women’s movement to Clarendon College.
Soon, though, reports of violent protests across the country reach this sleepy New England town, stirring tensions between the fraternal establishment of Clarendon and those calling for change. As authorities attempt to tamp down “radical elements,” Virginia must decide whether she’s willing to put herself and her family at risk for a cause that had never felt like her own.
Told through alternating perspectives, The Wrong Kind of Woman is an engrossing story about finding the strength to forge new paths, beautifully woven against the rapid changes of the early ’70s.
In her entrancing debut, McCraw Crow traces the impact of second-wave feminism and the antiwar movement in the early 1970s on a New Hampshire college campus. After Virginia Desmarais's husband, Oliver, dies from a brain aneurysm, she and her high-school-age daughter Rebecca are left to pick up the pieces. Both Virginia and Oliver taught at the elite all-male Clarendon College; after Oliver's death, Virginia befriends a group of faculty feminists known as the Gang of Four and joins their efforts to bring coeducation and the women's movement to Clarendon. Theirs isn't the only movement that roils the seemingly idyllic campus: junior Sam Waxman, enraptured with Elodie, a radical activist, is drawn into planning increasingly violent actions against the Vietnam War, but becomes uneasy when Elodie sets her sights on Clarendon for its alleged "role in the military-industrial complex." The author considers these events from multiple perspectives, as Virginia works to gain confidence in herself, Rebecca struggles to understand who her mother is becoming, and Sam's actions at a fraternity party lead Virginia's neighbors to blame the Gang of Four for the escalating radicalism on campus. The choice to present the characters' desperate actions in shades of gray makes for engrossing reading. McCraw Crow's smart and thoughtful story will ring true to those who witnessed the social upheavals of the '70s.