A Woman of Independent Means

By Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

(reviewed by Irina)

I’ve always been a sucker for epistolary novels since I read Daddy Long Legs as a teenager. A Woman of Independent Means is a very good one, covering a woman’s life from fourth grade at about ten until her death at seventy-nine.

    • Author: Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
    • Title: A Woman of Independent Means
    • Pages: 279
    • Published: 1978 (this edition 1998)

<liPublisher: Penguin Books

  • ISBN: 0-14-02-7436-7


Apparently it’s famous, and the copy I have from the library is the “20th anniversary edition of the beloved national bestseller with a new letter to the reader”. Well, I never know a bestseller when I smell it, not even Harry Potter when I happened to be in London about the time it first came out.

This is exquisite, though, touching and realistic, with a strong voice that clearly belongs to a strong woman. The protagonist is based partly (I suspect mostly) on the author’s grandmother, influenced by the 1970s feminist movement but without the preachiness that often comes from that.

There’s a reader’s guide at the back, which can also be found at the Penguin Putnam site; it offers a much more adequate summary of the book than I can.