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Garnet Books

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Tempest-Tossed

The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker

Susan Campbell

Tempest-Tossed is the first full biography of the passionate, fascinating youngest daughter of the “Fabulous Beecher” family—one of America’s most high-powered families of the nineteenth century. Older sister Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Brother Henry Ward Beecher was one of America’s most influential ministers, and sister Catherine Beecher wrote pivotal works on women’s rights and educational reform. And then there was Isabella Beecher Hooker—“a curiously modern nineteenth-century figure.” She was a leader in the suffrage movement, and a mover and shaker in Hartford’s storied Nook Farm neighborhood and salon. But there is more to the story—to Isabella’s character—than that.

Isabella was an ardent Spiritualist. In daily life, she could be off-putting, perplexing, tenacious, charming. Many found her daunting to get to know and stay on comfortable terms with. Her “wild streak” was especially unfavorable in the eyes of Hartford society at the time, which valued restraint and duty. In her latest book, Susan Campbell brings her own unique blend of empathy and unbridled humor to the story of Harriet’s younger half-sister. Tempest Tossed reveals Isabella’s evolution from orthodox Calvinist daughter, wife, and mother, to one of the most influential players in the movement for women’s suffrage, where this unforgettable woman finally gets her proper due.

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Water for Hartford

The Story of the Hartford Water Works and the Metropolitan District Commission

Kevin Murphy

As good health is inextricably wedded to pure drinking water—and this particular concern looms larger every day—understanding delivery systems is almost as important as the water itself. Water for Hartford chronicles the century-long effort, beginning in the 1850s, to construct a viable, efficient water system. The story of Hartford’s water works is a fascinating one, for it recalls the hard work, great sacrifice, and extraordinary engineering feats necessary to deliver wholesome drinking water to a growing urban center. It also illuminates the ever-changing social, political, and economic milieu in which it was built.

The story of its construction is also the story of three men—Hiram Bissell, Ezra Clark, and Caleb Saville. Readers are transported back in time and given a firsthand glimpse of what these champions of a water system faced on a daily basis: unforgiving geography, venal politicians, and an often-indifferent public. The book culminates in the exhilaration of having built a water works from scratch to deliver clean, safe drinking water to the masses. Water for Hartford is a human story, peopled by men of vision and achievement, who understood that their decisions and actions would affect millions of people for decades to come.

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Westover

Giving Girls a Place of Their Own

Laurie Lisle

Westover, a girls’ school in Middlebury, Connecticut, was founded in 1909 by emancipated “New Women,” educator Mary Hillard and architect Theodate Pope Riddle. Landscape designer Beatrix Farrand did the plantings. It has evolved from a finishing school for the Protestant elite, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first love, to a meritocracy for pupils of many religions and races from all over the world. The fascinating account of the ups and downs of this female community is the subject of Laurie Lisle’s lively and well-researched book. The author describes the innovations of the idealistic minister’s daughter who founded the school in 1909, her intellectual successor who turned it into a college preparatory school in the 1930s, the quiet headmaster who managed to keep it open during the turbulent 1970s, and the prize-winning mathematics teacher, wife, and mother who leads the high school today. This beautifully illustrated book tells an important story about female education during decades of dramatic change in America.

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