Unmentionables is a story of the transformative power of an open mind and an open heart. Small town intrigues, women’s suffrage, race relations, international aid, public health regulation and undergarments all figure in the mix.
Laurie Loewenstein’s novel opens in August 1917 under the Chautauqua tent in the Midwest town of Emporia. Marian Elliott Adams sweeps onto the stage wearing “a rippling striped silk caftan and red Moroccan sandals” to lecture on Barriers to the Betterment of Women. Not about the lack of female colleges or voting rights, as you might think. Rather, the barriers are “combination suit, petticoat, corset, corset cover, hose supporter, hose” – 25 pounds of invisibilities that drag women down. The nameless faces in the audience (they look the same in every Chautauqua town) listen politely. The Chautauqua lectures are offered and taken as entertainment. Nobody expects them to change the world. Continue reading