As I mentioned in my teaser post for this book, I actually picked up this copy toward the end of last year and began reading it shortly thereafter. For some reason, I put it down but with the movie coming out, I knew I should finish it up. While I wasn’t able to finish it before seeing the movie, I breezed through the final pages and actually learned some interesting things about Wonder Woman, her creator, and her hushed beginnings.
This book explores the history of Wonder Woman and the inspiration behind her character. The author, Jill Lepore, starts at the very beginning. Lepore explores William Moulton Marston’s childhood, education, and personal relationships in detail. While divulging secrets from his life, Lepore spills details about Marston’s relationships with Olive Byrne, niece to Margaret Sanger (a founder of Planned Parenthood), Elizabeth Holloway Marston (his wife), and Marjorie Wilkes Huntley. This book explains how each woman served as a source of inspiration for Wonder Woman and the progressive life the family lived. Lepore also talks about the struggles Wonder Woman faced during her publication as well as the feminist narrative that permeated throughout her storyline.
I found the beginning of this book to be slow, which was probably due to the need for Lepore to get Marston’s back story out into the open for the readers. While his educational story was interesting, especially his desire to learn about psychology and how to tell if someone was lying, I honestly wanted to get more into the details of Wonder Woman. The initial slow pace might be why I put the book down at the end of last year, because I ended up flying through the second half. And let me be frank in saying that I rarely pick up non-fiction reading unless it’s something I’m truly interested in; so while I’m not an avid non-ficition reader, this book was wholly enjoyable.
I loved that the author chose to sprinkle the text with family pictures. Once you learn about the interesting and progressive lifestyle the Marston family led, the pictures only add to the story. I think the Wonder Woman comics that were inserted into the text were also interesting to see and read. While Lepore did a great job explaining the comic book text and parsing out certain scenes to explore their feminist nuances, seeing the actual pages of the comics brought the history to life.
To Read or Not to Read?
If you don’t know much about Wonder Woman’s beginnings, I think this book would give you some great insight into her character—especially if you enjoyed the movie. But I did read a few reviews that said nothing in this book was too earth-shattering if you already knew about her history.
P.S. While I was writing up this review, I happened to be watching the Sex and the City episode when Carrie is into the comic book store guy and raves about Wonder Woman’s accessories. What a coincidence!
Did you see the Wonder Woman movie? If so, what did you think?