Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

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New Year News

Happy New Year!

The paying job is cutting into my leisure reading time these days, so I’ve had fewer book reviews than usual. Please be patient. More to come.

In the meantime …

George Simmers at Great War Fiction has been sleuthing about to solve some mysteries about Evadne Price and Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War, which was written by Price under the pseudonym Helen Zenna Smith. You can read his findings here, here, here and here.

A shout out to the Spinecrackers book club, some members of which follow this humble blog. Their reading themes are eclectic, and next on their journey is a book about WW1. Was the short list gleaned from here, by chance? Regardless, they have chosen Laurie Loewenstein’s Unmentionables. I look forward to reading their comments here soon.



An Interview with Unmentionables Author Laurie Loewenstein

I am pleased to welcome a special guest to Great War 100 Reads. Laurie Loewenstein’s novel, Unmentionables, was reviewed here earlier this month. Laurie has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her work.

Why did you write this book?

Laurie Loewenstein: As it is with most writers, I had several ideas for characters and stories rolling around in my head for some time. Foremost, I wanted to write a novel with an outspoken woman at its center. Serendipitously, I stumbled upon an account of the early life of author and dress reformer, Nina Wilcox Putnam. Born in 1888, she was at one time a nationally known magazine writer and humorist. Putnam contracted TB as a young woman and cured herself by sleeping in a tent on a rooftop in NYC and by adopting unrestrictive dress. Nina’s story provided the impetus to create my fictional character of Marian. Continue reading



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