Leaving Coy's Hill: A Novel (Hardcover)
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** A Massachusetts Book Award "Fiction Honor" **
An unforgettable story about the triumphs and travails of a woman unwilling to play by the rules, based on the the remarkable life of pioneering feminist and abolitionist Lucy Stone.
Born on a farm in 1818, Lucy Stone dreamt of extraordinary things for a girl of her time, like continuing her education beyond the eighth grade and working for the abolitionist cause, and of ordinary things, such as raising a family of her own. But when she learns that the Constitution affords no rights to married women, she declares that she will never marry and dedicates her life to fighting for change.
At a time when it is considered promiscuous for women to speak in public, Lucy risks everything for the anti-slavery movement, her powerful oratory mesmerizing even her most ardent detractors as she rapidly becomes a household name. And when she begins to lecture on the “woman question,” she inspires a young Susan B. Anthony to join the movement. But life as a crusader is a lonely one.
When Henry Blackwell, a dashing and forward-thinking man, proposes a marriage of equals, Lucy must reconcile her desire for love and children with her public persona and the legal perils of marriage she has long railed against. And when a wrenching controversy pits Stone and Anthony against each other, Lucy makes a decision that will impact her legacy forever.
Based on true events, Leaving Coy’s Hill is a timeless story of women’s quest for personal and professional fulfillment within society’s stubborn constraints. And as an abolitionist and women’s rights activist fighting for the future of a deeply divided country, Lucy Stone’s quest to live a life on her own terms is as relevant as ever. In this “propulsive,” “astonishing,” and “powerful” story, Katherine Sherbrooke brings to life a true American heroine for a new generation.
About the Author
Katherine A. Sherbrooke is the author of Fill the Sky, which was a finalist for the May Sarton Award for Contemporary Fiction and the Foreword Indies Book of the Year, and won a 2017 Independent Press Award as well as Leaving Coy's Hill, also published by Pegasus Books. She is Chair of the GrubStreet Creative Writing Center in Boston and lives south of the city with her husband, two sons, and black lab.
"A staunch activist in the fight for women’s rights who got her start among New England’s abolitionists, [Lucy Stone] has been overshadowed in the historical record by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony…Katherine A. Sherbrooke’s Leaving Coy’s Hill aims to revive interest in Stone by dramatizing her dogged attempts to support herself and her causes on the lecture circuit — and her equally dogged attempts to reconcile her professional career with motherhood and a “marriage of equals”.
— New York Times Book Review; Summer Reading 2021
“Lucy Stone’s lifelong contribution to both the suffrage and abolitionist causes makes her a fascinating subject for a novel….Leaving Coy’s Hill offers the reader the chance to encounter a range of fascinating famous figures from 19th-century America, including Frederick Douglass and Antoinette Blackwell, Stone’s sister-in-law and the first woman to be an ordained minister in America.”
— Kate Braithwaite
“Leaving Coy's Hill is an important book about an important woman, abolitionist and suffragist, Lucy Stone. Sherbrooke paints a vivid portrait of this often forgotten American figure who inspired a nation to think differently about women's rights. Unforgettable and unputdownable, this novel will remain in memory long after the last page has been turned."
— Crystal King, author of FEAST OF SORROW and THE CHEF'S SECRET
"What could be more timely than Sherbrooke’s gorgeously fictionalized and page-turning account of Lucy Stone, the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree, to keep her maiden name, and to fight for women’s rights? A stunning look at timeless issues—how we navigate motherhood and career, marriage or staying single, and how we create change in a world that seems to have gone crazy, all told through the lens of one extraordinary heroine."
— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You
"Sherbrooke brings Lucy Stone back to life with this passionate and inspiring novel that lays bare the enduring struggle to steer between love and career, and the fight to challenge the people and laws holding us back. Timeless and stunning, Leaving Coy's Hill reminds us to fight, to love and to appreciate the power of passion - passion for ideas, people, and women's rights.”
— Rachel Barenbaum, author of A BEND IN THE STARS
“This propulsive and astonishing story transported me to another era while compelling me to think deeply about questions that are as relevant today as they were in the 1800s: What is equality? What will we sacrifice for our principles? What makes a person whole? Immersed in stunning detail and evocative voices from the past, I came to deeply respect Lucy Stone’s tenacity, admire her passion and eloquence—and love her for her humility and her lasting power. A beautiful story that shines a powerful light on values we still struggle to realize and uphold.”
— Katrin Schumann, author of This Terrible Beauty and The Forgotten Hours
“Sherbrooke taps into the current moment with authenticity and vulnerability, outrage and heartbreak. You’ll shake your head and raise your fist as Lucy Stone, suffragist and abolitionist, fights maddeningly familiar battles—for pay and property, for physical safety and bodily autonomy, for universal rights and freedoms, and to etch her own name into the history books and prove she is no one’s relic. Leaving Coy’s Hill is deeply moving and profoundly relevant.”
— Susan Bernhard, author of Winter Loon
"A powerful and stirring portrait of one of the most influential women in the equal rights movement. Thanks to Sherbrooke’s skillful storytelling, Lucy Stone is no less inspiring today than she was 170 years ago. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ready to march!"
— Isla Morley, author of THE LAST BLUE and COME SUNDAY
"With incredible elegance and insight, Leaving Coy's Hill strikes a perfect balance between historical setting and a rendering of the inner woman. I delighted in Lucy’s character, her quirks, ambition, loves, as well as her friendships and connectedness to important figures of the time. While Leaving Coy’s Hill illuminates the timeless female struggle for equality, tight roping career and motherhood, and achieving financial independence, its crowning achievement is an authentic, poetic voice. Sherbrooke’s language set the clocks back a hundred and fifty years with its soothing, measured cadence. Clear your calendar for this one, it’s an impossible-to-put-down, must read.”
— Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, author of EDEN and THE NINE
"Powerful and moving, Leaving Coy’s Hill deftly examines the lifelong ambitions and friendships of abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone as she balances family and work, personal pain and public responsibilities, the strong pull of home and the prohibitive demands of the road. With an acute sense of place and an assured hand, Sherbrooke gives Lucy Stone the exposition and recognition she deeply deserves while bringing to light buried truths about the underbelly of the women’s rights movement in the United States. A beautiful meditation on advocacy and courage with a heroine who is impossible to forget.”
— Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop and Together Tea
"Leaving Coy’s Hill is both an intimate, urgent confession by a mother to a daughter and a powerful corrective to the biography of one of our country’s most consequential yet under appreciated reformers. Katherine Sherbrooke has brought the daring, dauntless, silver-throated Lucy Stone to vivid life, giving us a thoroughly modern heroine whose bold vision has still yet to be fully realized more than a hundred years after her passing. An inspiring, provocative read."
— Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men