Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
(Knopf, 2013, 442 pages)
Book of Ages explores the life of Jane Franklin, youngest sister of Benjamin Franklin. Lepore looked at the letters shared between Jane and her famous brother and thought it was interesting to delve deeper into what it said about this woman who was very intelligent but was limited in life because of her gender. Jane was born at a time in history where women were taught to read but there was no focus on teaching them how to write – a definite limitation.
Jane raised a family while suffering through a husband who regularly left the family in debt and being forced to survive a number of her children. She kept in touch with family and friends through letters though she constantly apologized for her poor spelling and hoped that her meaning came across (a common feature in letters written by other women at this time). Jane had an interest in politics and loved to read. Her correspondence with her brother speaks to her keen intellect and her desire to stay on top of what was going on in the world around her. She offered a unique perspective on what was happening at this time in history.
Lepore kept the spelling errors intact for the reader to understand and appreciate Jane’s efforts and the life she led. If you enjoy reading about American history, women’s history, and/or Benjamin Franklin you’ll appreciate Book of Ages.