Hodgson has created a number of artistic books, full of extraordinary illustrations, fanciful tales a la' Nick Bantock. But Hodgson has established her own niche, mined her own particular vein of creativity, beautifully stylized and visually compelling.
In No Place for a Lady, the author has combined her definitive artistic style with a series of female adventures, travels undertaken by women drawn to broadening their cultural horizons from Russia to Africa to Japan. These women have one thing in common: an insatiable curiosity to see the world. Covering the 17-19th Centuries, these women come either from a bored middle-class or are of the upper class, indulging their unremitting wanderlust.
There are women in exile, those in search of a place where the fair sex will be treated with dignity rather than contempt, others avoiding the reality of their travails and seekers on religious pilgrimages. Throughout their journeys, such women exhibit exceptional bravery and a willingness to endure inconvenience and discomfort for the sake of traveling. The ladies are educated and self-confident, predominately British.
The wide range of personalities found in No Place for a Lady, show a common spirit, energy and endurance. Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, prefers Italy, as does Mme. Anne Louise Germaine de Stael, an outspoken intellectual and novelist. Others, like French Violoncellist Lise Christiani braves Siberia, a musician determined to perform at the court of St. Petersburg in 1849 "to make her fortune". A number of female travelers visit Egypt by the 1840's, if only to write later about their inconvenience and discomfort in widely published diaries. Of these, Sophia Poole includes bits of history, economics and edited correspondence, hoping for broader audience appeal when her journal is printed. Frances Trollope spends four years in the United States, traveling widely across the landscape, energetically writing of American "boorishness".
Throughout, full-page sepia illustrations add to the Victorian flavor of this book, as well as four-color maps and illustrations, all of which make a fascinating journal of lady-adventurers. Hodgson's tales mix exotic locales with that special fastidiousness that attends these ladies, in language that is precise and ladylike, tramping boldly across continents few adventurous women have seen before. Luan Gaines/ 2003.