Summary (from Goodreads):
“In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.
Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter—and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail—including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.
Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes—painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.”
This book is absolutely heartbreaking. It’s based on a true story, but one that I had never heard.
In the late 1800s, two women were in love. Or at least one of them was. And they were engaged to be married. Except it was the late 1800s and they were two women. So things didn’t go well when their families found out and they stopped talking, as their families demanded. And then one of them ended up dead by the other one’s hand.
There are about a billion different ways this all could have been prevented, not the least of which is by one person (really, almost anyone who knew them) being aware of just how deep their friendship was and how unhinged Alice was at being denied access to Freda and stepping in to keep them separated.
While Alice’s story breaks my heart, she is not the hero of this story. This story doesn’t have a hero but it has a ton of victims.
This book is so compelling and, while it’s incredibly short, it made me feel like I knew Alice and Freda. A lot of research was obviously done, and it helps that things were included (love letters, court documents, etc).
This is an amazing book. Highly recommended.