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Falmouth Jewish Congregation Presents a Jewish Book Council Author Talk by Emily Franklin on her novel The Lioness of Boston, a fictionalized account of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Thursday, February 29 at 11am at Falmouth Jewish Congregation

Free and Open to the public | Advance RSVP required at www.falmouthjewish.org or email fjcoffice@comcast.net


Book sales by Eight Cousins Bookshop


On Thursday, February 29 at 11am, Falmouth Jewish Congregation will host an in-person Jewish Book Council author talk by Emily Franklin on her novel The Lioness of Boston, a fictionalized account of Isabella Stewart Gardner. This talk is free and open to the public, but requires advance registration at www.falmouthjewish.org or by email to fjcoffice@comcast.net. Local independent bookshop Eight Cousins is handling book sales and signing. All are welcome to this in-person event at the congregation’s Blanche & Joel D. Seifer Community Center at 7 Hatchville Road, where the facilities are accessible to all.

Emily Franklin’s The Lioness of Boston offers readers a deeply evocative, fictionalized account of Isabella Stewart Gardner, a daring visionary who created an inimitable legacy in American art and transformed the city of Boston itself. Beyond this fascinating persona, the novel is also a detailed-filled portrait of what society expected a woman’s life to be and how it reacted to this courageous soul who rebelled, determined to live on her own terms. Franklin will discuss how she approached her subject as the consummate outsider, her relevance today, and take your questions.

By the time Isabella Stewart Gardner opened her Italian palazzo-style home as a museum in 1903 to showcase her collection of old masters, antiques, and objects d’art, she was already well known for scandalizing Boston’s polite society. But when Isabella first arrived in Boston in 1861, she was twenty years old, newly married to a wealthy trader, and unsure of herself. Puzzled by the frosty reception she received from stuffy bluebloods, she strived to fit in. After two devastating tragedies and rejection from upper-society, Isabella discovered her spirit and cast off expectations. Freed by travel, she explored the world of art, ideas, and letters, meeting and befriending such kindred spirits as Henry James and Oscar Wilde, and forming a friendship with the Jewish art critic Bernard Berenson. From London and Paris to Egypt and Asia, she develops a keen eye for paintings and objects, and meets feminists ready to transform nineteenth century thinking in the twentieth century. Isabella becomes an eccentric trailblazer, painted by John Singer Sargent in a portrait of daring décolletage, and fond of such stunts as walking a pair of lions in the Boston Public Garden.

Franklin notes:  “Writing The Lioness of Boston, I was drawn to Gardner not only because of her lasting contribution to Boston and the art world, but because she was an outsider. The more comfortable Gardner became with her own outspoken nature, the more she stopped trying to fit in, the more she became herself.” While set in the 1800s,

The Lioness of Boston illustrates how Isabella’s search for belonging resonates now.

Emily Franklin is the author of more than twenty novels and a poetry collection, Tell Me How You Got Here. Her award-winning work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Guernica, JAMA, and numerous literary magazines as well as long-listed for the London Sunday Times Short Story Award, featured and read aloud on NPR and named notable by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

You will find a complete roster of Jewish Book Council author talks at the FJC website, including the next one up: Oren Kessler’s virtual author talk on his book Palestine 1936 on Monday, March 11 at 1pm. RSVP and learn more at www.falmouthjewish.org.


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