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See the story of THE GREAT DIVORCE in the Wall Street Journal

“Modern Americans, bombarded with stories of celebrity divorces, probably assume that the tabloid breakup is a recent phenomenon. This lively, well-written and engrossing tale proves them wrong.” The New York Times Book Review

“Ilyon Woo’s The Great Divorce is much more than a fascinating account of a woman’s trailblazing battle for her children.  By delving so deeply into the sources, Woo brings the past to life in all its wonderful strangeness, complexity, and verve.  This is what history is all about.”

Nathaniel Philbrick, winner of the National Book Award, author of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and The Mayflower

From The Washington Post: “Woo vividly tells the story of the Chapman’s broken family, beginning with a dramatic sentence worthy of Stephen King….”

“Neglected history comes alive in this meticulously researched and compelling story of one tenacious woman. Strongly recommended to all interested readers.”  Starred review in the Library Journal.

“The Great Divorce is a superb book – masterfully written, deeply suspenseful, and filled with fascinating facts and insights.  American history would be everyone’s favorite subject if more historians wrote like this.  Woo is a writer to watch.”

Debby Applegate, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“A writer of extraordinary empathy and great resourcefulness, Ilyon Woo has transformed a neglected historical record into a vivid evocation of an era and an amazing tribute to a remarkably tenacious woman, Eunice Chapman. Meticulously researched and compellingly narrated, The Great Divorce will stand beside the work of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in the pantheon of American women’s history writing.”

John Matteson, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

“Ilyon Woo has taken the stuff of obscure history and transformed it into a gripping drama that resonates with our own world. Though she lived in the 19th century, Eunice Chapman reminded me of Erin Brockovich-a woman on a mission who fights like a tigress for what she believes in. Woo has an eye for the telling detail, and a prose style as elegantly spare as a Shaker chair.  The result is a heart-warming, finely written story of one woman’s battle against fanaticism, a story that has particular resonance today.”

Simon Worrall, author of The Poet and the Murderer

“American history, law, religion and politics all come alive in this poignant account of an abandoned woman’s rescue of her children in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Ilyon Woo gives us the unfolding drama of the first and only legislative divorce in the history of New York as part of a larger struggle for civil identity and women’s rights. It is not enough to say that this story of Eunice Chapman’s fight against injustice is well told. Ilyon Woo tells a story that every American should want to read.”

Robert A. Ferguson, George Edward Woodberry Professor of Law, Literature, and Criticism, Columbia University, author of The Trial in American Life

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