Spring 1985 • Vol. VII No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1985 |

The Name of Frailty

The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984. 560 pages. $19.95. This book teems with entertaining stories: Ann Fanshaw braves the turbulent seas; Joan Flower dons the identity of a witch; Mary Ward fights for educational reform; Lady Eleanor Davies scans the future; Jane Whorwood plots to spring Charles I; Joan Dant becomes the queen of pedlars. Whatever else may be said of these women, they were not weak. And that is the burden of Lady Antonia Fraser's examination of the lot of English womankind from the final years of Elizabeth I to the reign of Queen Anne: despite the attention given to Saint Peter's dictum about women being "the weaker vessel," women were in fact strong—in spirit, in resourcefulness, in resolve, in devotion, in enterprise, and even at times in physical prowess. The work falls into three broad sections: in the first, Lady Antonia treats the enduring matrimonial matrix which, above all other factors, determined a woman's status d

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