James Fenimore Cooper: The Later Years. By Wayne Franklin. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. 2017. xviii, 805 pp. Cloth, $45.00.

This book concludes a two-volume comprehensive biography with underlying themes of absence and return. The story begins with Cooper’s departure for Europe in 1826, followed by his contentious homecoming seven years later, with its libel suits, arguments with the press, and announcement that he’d write no more books. Yet the 1840s were highly productive, as he wrote sixteen novels, innovating the genres he established by more thoroughly anchoring them in realism. One dimension that “has not been fully described until now” is the impact of Cooper’s ill health, including his use of mercury pills to heal his liver.

The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Culture. By Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press....

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