Books: Footnotes No Longer

As women's history takes root in the canon, more stories about the past take on a female voice

After two generations of women's studies, the pickings are getting slim. All the major and most of the minor figures, from Pandora to Paglia, have been covered. But the gender genie is out of the bottle, and locating yet another of history's unsung females is now a mainstream imperative.

The phenomenon is influencing historical fiction. Even men are catching on to the imaginative possibilities. Earlier this year Ron Hansen dug deep for Hitler's Niece, a novel that cast the teenage Geli Rabaul as Lolita to the Fuhrer's Humbert Humbert.

That tour de force was followed by Sena Naslund's Ahab's Wife, in...

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