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Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton

At a time when career paths were uncommon for women in general, let alone a pursuit of writing, Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess stepped into the unknown and came out relatively unscathed on the other side. 

As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of a prominent Royalist, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown during the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the roundheads. Behind every great woman is a great man, and as fate would have it she met and married William Cavendish, who gave her the boost to follow her dream of writing. 

Her poems, considered widely unconventional, garnered varying degrees of affirmation and scorn--as is common with most writing; Margaret's poetry and prose was lauded by some, and criticized by others. 

Upon reviewing this book one thing was clear: the writing style of Danielle Dutton is pure joy. Simple, with a hint of insouciance in its approach as a piece of historical fiction, yet powerful in its storytelling enabling us to understand a character who has been historically elusive and sometimes referred to as Mad Madge.

In a time when many women authors went by a pen-name, Margaret Cavendish chose to expose her writing vulnerability and published various genres of work including poetry, fiction, feminist plays, letters, biography, science, and even utopian science fiction. 

For the genre of historical fiction, you’ll be surprised by how edible and compact the novel is, and some may argue that it skims the surface and gives scant treatment of the real Margaret Cavendish yet I would argue that it does the opposite. While other history books may provide a somewhat dry, anodyne version of Margaret Cavendish, the person, Danielle Dutton’s Margaret The First feels like a firsthand account of a real woman -- not the caricature that the media knew her by. Dutton infuses the thoughts, fears, and triumphs of the character when we see her behind closed doors. 

Margaret The First is one of those books that opens the world for everyone and it is an accessible read for those new to and those who love reading historical fiction. 


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Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog: thinkblink.ca/blog, as well as a lifestyle blog: sukasastyle.com T: @SukasaStyle) 


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