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Under the Almond Trees is the story of three ordinary women in California who lived extraordinary lives. It starts with a falling tree branch that kills Ellen VanValkenburgh’s husband in 1862, forcing her to assume leadership of his paper mill, something women weren’t allowed to do. Women weren’t allowed to vote yet, either. Ellen decided that had to change, and became a suffragette.
In 1901, Emily Williams, Ellen’s daughter-in-law, became an architect – very much against her family’s wishes. No one would hire a woman, but Emily would not be deterred. She and her life partner Lillian set out to build homes themselves.
By the 1930’s women enjoyed more freedom, including the vote. Even so, Ellen’s granddaughter Eva VanValkenburgh chose a traditional life of marriage and children, even closing her photography business at her husband’s insistence. When he later refused to pay for their daughter’s college education, Eva followed the example of her Aunt Emily and reopened her photography business.
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“This book is fascinating, not only for the history that is recorded in the story line, but also because of the women whose stories are told in its pages. The book touched my heart and pulled me into the lives of these strong women. I highly recommend this story that is beautifully told.”
Christine Perkins, Amazon Reviewer
“Ulleseit gives us a very detailed picture, inspired by real women in her family, of what it was like to live in an America where women didn’t have the vote, and where they were denied entry into business and professional careers. There are many discussions about whether women must choose between a family and a career, a question that, unfortunately, still plagues many women today.”
Rebecca D’Harlingue, PLW