Collins is a cheerful companion through the decades. Right from the introduction, the reader understands Collins’s point of view: A woman can be kind, intelligent, hard-working and successful, but we’re always going to wonder if she’s coloring her hair, or has gained or lost a little weight. Nevertheless, there are dozens upon dozens of heroic stories of remarkable women in this book that will be new to the average reader ... This is a history book, a sprightly one ... devotes much more time and space to politics and good works.
... breezy ... Collins’ research (backed up with copious endnotes) is impressive, and she manages to make an unexpected page-turner out of her findings, sharing one outrageous tale after another about such luminaries as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Chase Smith, and Betty Friedan. There are a lot of lesser known names to be found as well, including African American examples, but the lack of Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American women (several of whom would have fit perfectly) is disappointing. Still, this is a diverting and certainly interesting and valuable read, hopefully the start of more comprehensive history on the topic.
Not surprisingly, there is some overlap between [Collins's] books, particularly in her accounts of women's rights champions ... Known for the punch of her columns, Collins sprinkles conversational, sardonic asides throughout to try to keep this hike through the decades spry ... She has clearly made a concerted effort not to overlook black women, though other ethnicities — Asian, Muslim, Hispanic — are absent, even in her account of the 21st century ... It's easy to play the hole-poking game — Helen Gurley Brown and her 1962 manifesto Sex and the Single Girl get plenty of play, while Anna Wintour doesn't cop a mention. But there's more than enough to digest as is ... [a] tightly laced historical corset.
... comprehensive and timely ... The book starts off slowly, and can seem tedious, even monotonous, but things pick up with the Turn of the Century ... Collins provides women with a historical blueprint for things as they were, as they are, leaving only question of where older women are headed next.
... lively and well-researched ... [Collins] inserts significant data with a light touch and leavens the subject matter with her signature humorous tone. This enjoyable and informative historical survey will delight Collins’s fans and bring in some new ones.