Evans, Sarah Ann
EVANS, Sarah Ann
Born circa 1800; died date unknown
Wrote under: A Lady
Married Mr. Lemonoskey
Sarah Ann Evans is the supposed author of Resignation: An American Novel, By a Lady (1825). The National Union Catalogue Pre-1956 Imprints reports that "Miss Evans" later became "Mrs. Lemonoskey," but beyond this there are no published details about her life.
Like many sentimental novels, Resignation focuses on private lives and how people interact with one another. It is the story of Elizabeth Ellison and the intertwining lives of her numerous friends and relatives. Throughout the novel, family and friends are of primary importance and much time is spent together in rural retreats. Although public events like the Revolution, slave uprisings, and English indenture practices occur, they only affect the characters incidentally. Events of the private, domestic world carry much more import.
Resignation is filled with remarkable coincidences and cases of poetic justice. It dramatizes the vicissitudes of fate, and those characters who maintain appropriate moral behavior throughout all changes are ultimately rewarded. Consequently, the honorable Elizabeth regains her lost family estate and is free to marry her true love.
Christianity is a primary theme in Resignation. In her preface, Evans justifies the publication of the novel by stating its aim is to "direct the eye of youth to heaven." Therefore, the story narrative illustrates a necessity for piety, fortitude, cheerfulness, and abstinence. Elizabeth demonstrates the appropriate response to the inexplicable nature of life is resignation to God's will—hence, the novel's title.
To woman is given the role of preserving Christian morality, and Evans is concerned with defining the female's "proper sphere." In addition to being religious guides, women are to be teachers and pleasant companions to men. They should cultivate simplicity and gentleness. Women can fill their proper sphere by learning the "accomplishments of their sex" (singing, painting, versifying), as well as useful skills (cooking, sewing, tending the sick). A female writer's work should show sweetness, dignity, elegance, and piety. She should concentrate her descriptive talent on knowledge of the heart and on moral and religious lessons.
Resignation is a patriotic novel. During the story, loyal Americans support the Revolution, praise the virtues of the young nation, and utilize American-made products. Both men and women are interested in discussing the republic's future, and they generally agree that Christianity and the elevated sphere of woman are central to America's glory.
Resignation does not display literary genius but it is an interesting cultural document. The novel is conventional in content and form, bound by the definition of the sphere of the female writer. Nevertheless, Resignation illustrates the interests of many writers and readers of the early 19th century.
—SUSAN COULTRAP McQUIN