Monday, July 15, 2013

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Charlotte Doyle is a proper early 19th-century 13-year-old girl. When her family moves from England to the United States, she plans to join them after her school term. However, she soon discovers that the plan has gone awry when she boards the Seahawk, one of her father’s ships. The families she was supposed to travel with have suddenly canceled, and the crew gives her several cryptic warnings to stay away.

Thus begins The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I wanted to root for Charlotte and her adventures. I wanted to embrace True Confessions as a treatise for female empowerment (and racial equality), but I just could not suspend my disbelief long enough to do so.

I know this Newbery Honor Book is written for children, but I could not get beyond the fact that Charlotte, a female, is alone with a crew of men for months at a time. Charlotte abandons her traditional role as an upper-class female, and is a fine example of a girl throwing off gender restrictions, but it is impossible for me to believe that the crew, particularly in the early 1800s, would ever really accept and view her in a non-sexual manner. The anachronisms of the plot left me so disbelieving that I could not enjoy or recommend the book.

1 comment:

A. Wedell said...

:( This saddened me, because it is still one of my favorite books to read. Perhaps it could be a little far-fetched in most societies, there are some companies where there were lots of men, one woman is treasured like a mascot. My friend is an example--she works with many older men who do swear like sailors, and is treated as a little sister to be protected.