Random Acts of Publicity: Book Review of Diane Browning's SIGNED, ABIAH ROSE

As part of Darcy Pattison's Random Acts of Publicity week, I'm spotlighting a friend's book, Signed, Abiah Rose. You can read more about my friend, author/illustrator Diane Browning, by clicking here.

Abiah speaks to anyone who's ever had to struggle to claim part of their identity.

Despite prevailing attitudes towards women in the 18th and 19th centuries, Abiah Rose perseveres in her conviction that art exists above any category that society can impose on it. With rich, folk art-inspired illustrations, author/illustrator Diane Browning crafts a fictional account of the likely history of many anonymous female artists from early America.

Conforming to social norms of the day, members of Abiah's family dissuade her from signing her own work. "Best not, Abiah Rose," they would tell her, "Serious painting is not girl's work." Instead, Abiah signs all of her work secretly, with a hidden rose on each canvas.

Guided only by her passion for painting, Abiah does everything she can within the constraints of her society to nuture her artist's spirit and take charge of her creative life. With sheer determination, Abiah sets a course for her life's path. The destination is the day she can write the following words, "Signed, Abiah Rose," upon the work of her own hands.

Whether or not Abiah, or others like her, ever arrived at that place of acceptance remains unknown. The fact does remain, however, that they helped make it easier for the rest of us to do so.

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