Life in Victorian America is richly detailed in this domestic history of one middle-class family from Missouri. Author Margaret Graham draws from an extensive collection of letters, journals, Bible entries, receipts, newspaper clippings, and photographs from 1860 to 1902 to portray the family of boarding house proprietor Margaret Bruin Machette. These letters of Margaret Machette, her four children, and other correspondents focus primarily on familial devotion, deep religious faith, the constancy of work, and a commitment to education during Victorian America. The letters inevitably include references to critical points in American history such as Lincoln’s assassination, Jesse James’ robberies, controversial political elections, and the Civil War, with an emphasis on how war, epidemics, and drought affected the Machette family.
Engaging and compelling narratives are woven into the fabric of this complicated narrative, which traces the experiences of Margaret Bruin Machette, her husband Charles Machette, their children, and their extended family members through numerous periods of war, epidemics, political upheaval, and social change.… Highly original, Victorian America: A Family Record from the Heartland makes a solid contribution to the field of life writing.
—Suzanne L. Bunker