Born in the heart of the Great Depression, Peggy Ullman Bell grew up in books, dozens of books, as many as 12 a week the summer she was 15.
Reared in historic Gettysburg and York, Pennsylvania, Ms. Bell yearned to learn what women were doing while men were fighting battles and making revolutions. The history books did not tell her, and thus her search began.
FIXIN' THINGS, a coming of age novel set during and after the Battle of Gettysburg was Ms. Bell's gift to her mother, Eva May Lightner, deceased.
An accomplished poet in her own right, Ms. Bell became interested in Sappho, The Poetess of Lesbos in the flamboyant Hollywood of the 1960s when everyone around her seemed to know The Lesbian's name, but no one could answer any of Ms. Bell's questions about her.
Long hours in the library, and an endless supply of books obtained through Interlibrary Loan showed Sappho to have been a woman of genius, so well respected that men quoted from her work three hundred years after her death, and yet what few of her words escaped the destruction of the Library of Alexandria were lost through the philosophical purges of an 11th century Pope.
To Peggy Ullman Bell, the challenge was inescapable. Psappha, as Sappho called herself, was an enigma calling to her across the centuries, begging for resolution. How could a curious Aquarian resist?
With her innate appetite for answers aroused, Ms. Bell spent so much time reading ancient tomes that an editor wrote "Forget your college education and write in English," on an early rejection slip. Quite a compliment considering that she was a High School drop out with a night school diploma at the time. She changed that when, in 1973 she matriculated as a Freshman at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she became active in Pi Gamma Mu National Social Science Honor Society.
After transferring to the University of Tulsa for her junior year Ms. Bell rewrote her novel draft yet again as an English honor student.
Published in truncated form as PSAPPHA [Upstart, 2000] and sold out, Ms. Bell re-wrote and enhanced her beloved manuscript once again with the assistance of a gifted editor in order to release SAPPHO SINGS as her "author preferred" edition.
When asked why it took so long to get from first draft to this Ms. Bell smiled and said, "It takes a long time for an ancient culture to become a worthy tourist attraction."
Though originally from scant miles north of the Mason/Dixon Line and educated as a child in Gettysburg, Bell spent a quarter of a century on the Mississippi Gulf Coast before relocating to mid-Ohio. "But, I live in cyberspace," she explains in sultry southern tones.
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Women at Gettysburg FIXIN' THINGS
by Margaret Ullman
Published: December 8, 2010
The American Civil War erupts in their yard, leaving the Loren sisters and their friends no choice but to get busy fixin' things. "History viewed through the eyes of people who lived it, with all glamor and patriotism stripped away." Dedicated to "all the women who sacrificed their health, their lives, and their sanity to keep the [Gettysburg National Cemetery] from being a hundred times larger."
by Margaret Ullman
Here Psappha, as Sappho called herself in her own soft Aeolian dialect, sings her way from sadness through exile to triumph.
Deliciously written, with descriptive language that transports you wholly into an ancient world, the author's sensuous, often erotic, tale grips and tantalizes with an ever-thickening and twisting plot and an abundance of characters who will remain vivid in your mind.
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