Books: She-Soldiers and Acid Tongues

THE WEAKER VESSEL by Antonia Fraser; Knopf; 544 pages; $19.95

"Women, like our Negroes in our western plantations, are born slaves, and live prisoners all their lives," declared the anonymous author of An Essay in Defense of the Female Sex. Lady Antonia Fraser confirms this low appraisal of the state of many 17th century Englishwomen. But not all. Her indefatigable and lively research shows that a number of spirited females refused to get along and go along with a loveless marriage, contracted with an eye on a dowry and followed by a dozen children....

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