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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On Borrowed Wings

Prasad, Chandra. On Borrowed Wings. I'm finally getting around to catching up on a few reviews. Danielle had recommended this one highly, so when the author offered to send it to me, I gladly accepted. And there was a lovely carved bookmark, tucked in!

Hard for us to imagine in this day and age, but college educations for women were difficult to come by until the 20th century, and even then, many schools were exclusively male. Adele Pietra, who never expected the opportunity to attend college, has the chance to change her life after the death of her brother. Charles Pietra had been accepted to Yale, which in the 1930's was still an all male institution, but shortly after receiving his acceptance, he died in a tragic accident. Adele and her mother decide the opportunity is too valuable to waste.

Adele crops her hair and shows up in Cambridge as Charlie Pietra. Fortunately, she doesn't have a roommate! (There are some difficulties with her relatively easy masquerade.) The friends she makes and her ambivalence in her role provide some of the highlights. A difficult situation at best--trying to conceal one's true identity and gender, form friendships, evade dangerous issues and situations, and deal with a growing romantic interest in one of friends. Also of interest is "Charlie's" role with the DiRisio's, another situation that creates internal conflict, but becomes Charlie/Adele first real source of family warmth and worth.

The book provides an interesting look at the Yale campus of the 1930's and some of the cultural norms and social topics of the time. Some of the topics are to be extrapolated from the time period and Charlie's work study program, some are gender issues, but through Adele's experiences, we get a view of an earlier time with issues unique to the period and issues that remain part of all human and societal experience.

Fiction. Historical? 2007. 310 pages.


  1. I quite deliberately haven't read your review yet as Chandra also sent this to me and it's ear-marked for my weekend reading. I'll come back then and we'll have to compare notes. By the way, I can't remember if I've told you, but I'm moving my blog over to a different server shortly and you'll find it now in two places but eventually only on

  2. Ann -- I like your new blog very much!

  3. The title fits the book well, doesn't it? I have this book, too. She must have sent out quite a few. I'm becoming a bit backlogged on my review books.

  4. booklogged - I know exactly what you mean...the review books just keep coming and right now, I'm reading less than usual!

  5. OK, so I've finished this now and just reviewed it. Like you, I enjoyed it, although I'm going to write to her privately with a couple of comments that I might not put on the blog. That's why I normally avoid reviewing. It wasn't the case here, but what if you get a book you can say nothing positive about?

  6. Ann -- It does present a problem, doesn't it? I've reviewed some pretty negatively; others, I've tried to stay fairly neutral on; some review books I've received, I couldn't finish (and therefore, did not review).