Thursday, December 14, 2023

Book Review - The Wrong Kind of Woman by Sarah McCraw Crow


The Wrong Kind of Woman by Sarah McCraw Crow is about a mother moving on after her husband’s death. In 1970, Oliver Desmarais and his young teenage daughter, Rebecca, were hanging Christmas lights for the holidays. Virginia is inside when her husband asks for assistance with the lights. When Virginia goes out to help, she finds Oliver sprawled on the floor unresponsive. 

After the unexpected death of husband, Virginia is unsure what she should be doing. Oliver was a professor at the New Hampshire men’s college. Without his salary, Virginia will have a tough time meeting her financial obligations, especially with a child at home. She tries to apply for a teaching position at the same college her late husband taught at. She is more than qualified for the position but she finds that she has a hard time being taken seriously.

At the school, there are four outspoken unmarried women on the faculty, dubbed the Gang of Four by their male counterparts. Oliver didn’t care for them and Virigina had shared his prejudices against them as well. However, with no one else to turn to, Virginia finds herself drawn and depending on them for help.

As Virginia spends more time with the women after Oliver’s death, she joins in their initiative to allow women to attend Clarendon College. Virginia and her friends are trying to institute change to their small community. However, things take an unexpected turn as violent protests across the country start to erupt as women’s rights issues hit the spotlight. The staff at the college is resistant to change and want to control any radical elements of change. Virginia must decide that if she is willing to put herself on the line for a cause that has never felt her own.

The book is told from an alternating perspective: Virginia, Rebecca, and Sam, one of Oliver’s students. I was surprised that they did include Sam’s and Rebecca’s perspective because I thought Virginia would be the main focus. I do think that their stories added to the novel because Virginia’s story by itself was kind of boring. At times, I did struggle to keep track of the different characters and how their stories related to the overarching plot. Sometimes, it was easy and other times it was very convoluted. There were times when a character was having flashbacks and it wasn’t made very clear that the character was revisiting something that happened in the past and it wasn’t something that was happening in the present.

During her low points, Virginia spent more time with the Gang of Four but, I felt like once Virginia figured out her life, they kind of disappeared and were put on the back burner. I would have liked more details about their friendships and how it blossomed or transitioned during this new phase of Virginia’s life. The book was an okay read but I wish it had more going on.

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