Often in books and movies, dramatic settings like Hollywood or Washington, D.C., serve as the backdrop for stories of sociopolitical changes. However, in The Wrong Kind of Woman, first-author Sarah McCraw Crow instead zeros in on a sleepy college town in New Hampshire. It’s 1970, and upheaval in the world, such as the events at Kent State University, feels far away. But the feminist and antiwar movements are determinedly creeping in.
The Wrong Kind of Woman features an ensemble of characters, but the primary focus is on Virginia Desmarais, whose husband, a professor, has died. Virginia put her academic career on pause to raise their daughter, and without a husband or her own Ph.D., she doesn’t know where she stands with the administrators at the all-male Clarendon College campus. Worse, she doesn’t know where she stands with herself.
Fans of the FX on Hulu miniseries “Mrs. America” will find the same feminist themes addressed in The Wrong Kind of Woman. Crow has tapped into a less flashy character of second wave feminism: the reluctant but curious wife and mother. The book, however, isn’t preachy, and the few strongly opinionated characters aren’t portrayed as necessarily likable.
The Wrong Kind of Woman explores the sublimation of self within a marriage, sexism in the workplace and the pros and cons of activism versus revolution. These are heady topics, but this slow burn of a novel proves a perfect place to give them serious thought.