Sunday, February 10, 2008

Jennifer Donnelly

From a Q & A with Jennifer Donnelly about her new book, The Winter Rose:

Q: The Winter Rose opens in May 1900. What drew you to this time period?

A: All of history is fascinating to me, but 1900 is extraordinarily compelling. It’s when the Old World became the New World, when we began to recognize ourselves as modern people. Queen Victoria’s reign ended. The West had been through the Industrial Revolution. Women were beginning to demand the vote. Labor was making its voice heard. Artists challenged notions of acceptable subject matter, and social reformers demanded a more just society. The very foundations of the modern welfare state were being laid in this period, and there was a breathtaking sense of newness and possibility.

Q: How did you think of making your heroine a female doctor?

A: Did you know that a hundred years ago, a pregnant woman often made out her last will and testament before going into labor? Imagine giving birth in 1900, facing unbearable pain without any hope of relief, and knowing there was a good chance that neither you nor your baby would survive. Childbearing was an extremely risky business in the 19th century, and I wanted to know how women coped with it, and how doctors delivered children without drugs, monitors, or the battery of modern tools and devices today’s obstetricians have. India Selwyn Jones, my main character, showed me the answers to those questions.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Jennifer Donnelly's website.

--Marshal Zeringue