This is the second volume in a four-part series that explores the role of Christians in American social movements; other novels deal with abolitionism, temperance, and the civil rights movement. As Stafford's characters hash out their reformist politics in stilted dialogue, they meet a parade of figures from Susan B. Anthony to Woodrow Wilson and grow used to an assortment of mechanical marvels, from the Model T to the Kodak camera. The effect is to suggest an easygoing compatibility between Christianity and modernity.
Unfortunately, it's all a little too pat. Feminism, with its undercurrents of free-thinking and sex radicalism, and Christianity, with its undercurrents of gendered hierarchy, remain in tension today. Many of Susan's present-day counterparts may feel that her dilemma still goes unresolved.