ABOUT THIS BOOK
Winner, 1999 Missouri Conference on History Book Award
This fascinating biography of a marriage in the Gilded Age closely examines the dynamic flow of power, control, and love between Washington blue blood Violet Blair and New Orleans attorney Albert Janin. Based on their voluminous correspondence as well as Violet’s extensive diaries, it offers a thoroughly intimate portrait of a fifty-four-year union which, in many ways, conformed to societal strictures, yet always created its own definition of itself in order to fit the flux of needs of both husband and wife.
Central to their story is Violet’s fierce determination to maintain her autonomy within the patriarchic institution of marriage. An enduring belle who thought, talked, and acted with the assurance and self-confidence of one whose wishes demanded obedience, she rejected the Victorian ideal of women as silent, submissive consorts. Yet her feminism was a private one, not played out on a public stage but kept to the confines of her own daily life and marriage.
With abundant documentary evidence to draw upon, Laas ties this compelling story to broader themes of courtiship behavior, domesticity, gender roles, extended family bonds, elitism, and societal stereotyping. Deeply researched and beautifully written, Love and Power in the Nineteenth Century has the dual virtue of making an important historical contribution while also appealing to a broad popular audience.