An Epistolary Review from Bonnie Jeanne

I enjoyed Revolutionary very much, partly because I am a New Englander and lived, ate and breathed the War of Independence growing up, partly because I have been writing to Alex’s wife, Ilona, since Jan 2009, when I sent her a Carmen Miranda paperdoll via a long dead site called postcardx, and partly because I also have a distant ancestor with a famous past (Ann Putnam, Salem in 17th century), but mostly because it is such an enjoyable, engaging read.

The letter box Deborah pulls out to write to her dear Jennie so captured my imagination. I actually wrote to Ilona and asked if she has such a letter box. She doesn’t, but if ever I find one, I will buy it because the idea of containing ones letter writing supplies in a box small enough to travel in 16th century wartime makes me all fuzzy and warm. My writing supplies fill a big backpack and weigh so much I can’t imagine anyone but the similarly mail enthused carry such a pack EVERY single day.

The part of the book I most want to talk to Alex about is the part I’m sure everyone wants to talk about …  the point where pronoun and name switch back and forth between she/he and Deborah/Robert. It is such a jarring, confusing point and until I was well past it, that part bothered me. I couldn’t figure out why the back and forth was so messy, until I did figure it out. At least, figured it out for me as the reader. It was messy for me because I have always thought in terms of he or she … well, not in all things, but probably always in my reading of fiction. Alex managed to, without coercion or force, get me to think not in gendered pronouns or names, but in terms of the person. I don’t know that I’ve put that eloquently, but it is something I would love to talk about so that I can be eloquent, and considerate, and honest.

I do lots of postcard exchanging and recently one of the people in a postcard group I belong to requested that the he/she pronoun not be used in reference to anything sent/received by that person and replaced with them/they. My first reaction was “How the hell am I supposed to remember that for this one person!?” And then I thought, “How many times have I adjusted my thoughts to use female or male pronouns (upon request) for those whose names are gender neutral?” It is so easy to just brush off simple requests because they seem too picky.

Thank you very much for selecting Revolutionary for the book discussion group. I am really looking forward to the telephone conference! I’ve not done anything like it before.

Postally Yours,
Bonnie Jeanne AKA PostMuse

P.S.  I wanted to send a photo of the postcard I used as a bookmark when reading Revolutionary. Notice the postage. That card arrived in Nov 2013 but I didn’t reply to it until I was reading the book in January. The postcard became a bookmark, as many postcards do, but I didn’t realize the significance of the Women in Military postage until later. But, is my noticing that a signal that I still can’t let go of gender identification? I don’t know and not sure it is even acceptable to bring it up.


Bonnie Jeanne's Postal Bookmark
Bonnie Jeanne’s Postal Bookmark

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

2 thoughts on “An Epistolary Review from Bonnie Jeanne

  1. Thank you for posting this Cathy. I’m going to be joining the call from Massachusetts as I’ll be visiting my family, in a tein not far from Deborah’s Middleborough 🙂

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