Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

IMG_2420“It was indescribable what she wanted. She was restless. She wanted to work. She wanted to be thirty people. She wanted to wear a cap of pearls and a coat of bright blue diamonds. To live as nature does, in many ages, in many brains.”

Margaret the First is a dramatization/re-imagining of the life of the 17th-century duchess, Margaret Cavendish. She was a writer who published works that included plays, poetry, and science-fiction that tackled topics of gender and power during a time when it was something women did not do, at least not under their own name. Margaret is a fascinating historical figure and Margaret the First covers her life, mostly through first-person perspective, with Margaret recounting her own story. This changes towards the end of the book where it switches to third person perspective as it wraps up.

“Yet how hard it is to point to a moment. To say: there, in that moment, I changed.”

This is an interesting book that depicts the life of a historical figure in a unique and intriguing way. With short chapters and captivating prose, the author provides a fascinating perspective of Margaret’s life and her writing and accomplishments during the challenging times of the 17th-century. It is a compelling dramatization and a good read for fans of Margaret Cavendish and also for those who maybe are not familiar with her, but are interested in a brief introduction. I myself do not have extensive knowledge of the duchess but thoroughly enjoyed this depiction and perception of her life and career, and found it to be a great starting point for further research on the subject.

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