Books of the region: women, ghosts

December 01, 1996|By JAMES H. BREADY | JAMES H. BREADY,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ruthellen Josselson interviewed 60 young women being graduated from several colleges, a quarter-century ago, and then in 1993 did follow-ups with 30 who were findable and communicative. The result was a new insight as to women's natures - instead of going through comparable, age-related stages, the study group seemed to branch out into four distinctive trajectories. Guardians were high achievers but rigid in outlook; pathmakers also achieved, but often in response to others' needs; searchers had ideals but forever moved from one commitment to another; drifters lived only for today, avoiding the large choices.

Their adolescence had been in the turbulent '60s; then the women's movement affected them; drastic social changes have kept on coming. In response, some of the 30 altered course, often for the better. Josselson, a Towson State psychology professor, tells their stories skillfully in "Revising Herself: The Story of Women's Identity From College to Midlife" (Oxford. 298 pages. $25).

Many men, too, will find these experiences, this analysis, absorbing.

***

In fascism's heyday before World War II, Italo Balbo was some Italians' notion as successor to, even replacement for, Benito Mussolini. But the stagey air marshal, leader of the "air armada" that flew the Atlantic to show off at Chicago's 1933 World's Fair, was a friendly-fire fatality in North Africa in 1940.

Blaine Taylor's new book, "Fascist Eagle" (Historical Publications, Missoula, Mont. 59801. 144 pages. Oversize. Paper, $14.95), relies on published sources but reproduces a wealth of unfamiliar photographs.

***

Every book was a rare book, in Colonial Maryland. From 1634 to 1700, there were no book-printers, no bookstores, no public libraries, very few schoolbooks - and the authorities liked it that way. Many an immigrant brought along a Bible (and Lewis Bayly's "The Practice of Piety"), but even how-to books on agriculture were scarce. "Publishing" was scribal (handwritten laws and court records) or oral (proclaimed aloud).

David D. Hall of Harvard, general editor of the oncoming, multi-volume "History of the Book in America," is currently the author of "Cultures of Print" (University of Massachusetts Press. 195 pages. Paper, $14.95); its longest chapter is, "The Chesapeake in the 17th Century." Who published most, at times? The Quakers.

***

John A. Pentz thought to record his full set of ancestors, but the Martinetti troupe took center stage. Touring the continents, these vaudeville precursors offered pantomime, acrobatics, ballet, even magic. Italians and French (Grossi, Bonnet), they moved to America in 1848 and one branch settled in Baltimore.

Their descendant, Pentz, taught English at City College for 39 years, moved to Easton on retirement and has now become a 93-year-old author. Former students, assessing style and syntax his book "The Martinetti Family" (Vantage. 212 pages. $17.95), would probably give him an A on it.

***

You'll have to take Nancy Stallings' word for it, or words ("Show Me One Soul: A True Haunting." Noble House. 363 pages. $27.95). But the old, tired house in Hamilton that she and her husband, Ron, and their six children bought (from a classified ad in this newspaper) and moved into in 1965 was, well, one unending Halloween. Stallings describes herself as psychic, but inside that house many a visitor's skin has crawled.

The family left in 1975; then and since, much publicity has attended its stay in "the house on Evergreen Avenue." Stallings' book is unhysterical. Among the many notables born in 1896 was Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor, a Baltimore woman who then for 35 years was wife to the abdicated British monarch, Edward VIII. "The Duchess of Windsor," by Michael Bloch (St. Martin's. 239 pages. $27.50) is a centennial observance. An Englishman, Bloch was an assistant to the duchess' French lawyer; several years ago, he edited the Windsors' letters.

Over against at least half a dozen previous "the woman I love" biographies, this one stands out for its family-album photos and for the sympathetic (but not adoring) treatment of its subject. Bloch supposes that, for physiological reasons, Wallis Warfield was a lifelong virgin.

James H. Bready was a reporter, book review editor and editorial writer for The Evening Sun for many years. He now writes a monthly column about books of the region.

Research into the paranormal continues.

Pub Date: 12/01/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.