Shop Thoughts

It’s “Women First” in Our Salon Series


The first recorded salons — i.e., social gatherings that doubled as educational gatherings and vice versa — date back to 15th-century Italy and were hosted by noblewomen, who perhaps had some time on their hands. They became so fashionable that the women of France soon heard about them and ran with the idea. Since women didn’t have access to formal education at the time, these events served as an acceptable way for them to learn about topics of interest. They were also one of the few venues where women had the freedom to express themselves and be in charge.

A focus on art and literature took hold of these salons in 19th century Paris and carried into the 20th century, most famously hosted by American ex-patriot Gertrude Stein, whose guests included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and other luminaries of the era. Some of the most well-known salons in America took place during the Harlem Renaissance, hosted by A’lelia Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ruth Logan Roberts.

Women’s History Month, then, seemed the perfect time for our team at the Book Shop of Beverly Farms to launch a literary salon series. For the first event, we’ve teamed up with the nonpartisan activist organization Leading Ladies to host author Susan Wilson this Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m., at Hastings House in Beverly Farms, for a discussion about pioneering surgeon Dr. Susan Dimock and her impact on modern medicine.

Wilson’s new biography of Dr. Dimock, Women and Children First, is the first to fully chronicle Dimock’s life and give her her rightful place in history.  Beginning with Dimock’s childhood in North Carolina during the Civil War, through her move to Massachusetts after a devastating fire destroyed the family home in Dimock’s teens, Wilson profiles a woman driven to provide for the public good. Beset by the same pandering misogyny that led to the creation of salons in the first place, Dimock is forced to leave the country to access the medical training she coveted, but returned to Boston ready to transform women’s and children’s medicine — there’s a reason the Dimock Health Center is on Dimock Street in Boston.  Her vision for both public betterment and the improvement of surgical methodology is as inspiring as her untimely death at age 28 is tragic.

Come see Susan Wilson, author of Women and Children First: The Trailblazing Life of Susan Dimock, M.D. Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m. at the Hastings House, 14 Oak Street, Beverly Farms.  The event is free to attend; books will be for sale at the event. Registration is free and not required but is appreciated.  Visit here for more information. 

Hannah Harlow is owner of The Book Shop, an independent bookstore in Beverly Farms.  Harlow writes biweekly recommendations for us.  See more of what she recommends reading at