Nina – Antique buyer, feminist, and no one’s fool

Women’s Fiction: A Very Good Life by Lynn Steward


1975 was designated International Women’s Year and in Book 1 – A Very Good Life in the Dana McGarry Series – Nina, the antique buyer and only feminist at B. Altman,  introduces the strides and set-backs of multi-generational women at this transitional period.


“I don’t believe that for a minute,” Nina snapped. “I was there and I know how much she loved that tree.”


Nina Bramen A Very Good Life l Lynn Steward

The Dana McGarry Series available on AMAZON

Chapter Nine


Nina steered her VW into the gravel parking area on the side of an ivy-covered stone edifice that, when it was built in 1750, had been nothing more than a barn with an adjoining piggery. The three B. Altman employees had arrived at the Inn at Phillips Mill. The pre-Revolutionary War estate in Bucks County was now a charming inn with period rooms and fine French dining.

“It’s beautiful scenery,” Nina remarked, “but give me the city on a day-to-day basis. Or a foreign country with a bustling population and hundreds of side streets lined with shops, stalls, and artisans. I like to feel the pulse of what’s going on in the world. I need color, movement, variety.”

The Inn at Phillps Mill,  Bucks County. PA

“What I need now,” said Andrew, “is a nice meal and a glass of wine.”

“The wine’s on me,” Nina said. “I was introduced to some lovely vintages last year when I visited the Alsace region.”

The trio was escorted to a private dining room with a stone fireplace and a roaring fire. Nina ordered poached salmon, Andrew the baked cod, and Dana the crab salad. Nina ordered a bottle of chardonnay to go with the seafood.

The Inn at Phillps Mill,  Bucks County. PA

“Nineteen seventy-five has been designated as International Women’s Year,” Nina said, moving straight from the menu to the topic of feminism. “It’s going to be our year, Dana. Thank God New York will soon have a woman as Lieutenant Governor. Mary Anne Krupsak is fabulous! She has already taken a stand for us. She won’t attend the Democratic Party’s mid-term convention because there won’t be enough women and minorities in attendance, nor will there be balanced geographical representation. She’ll be working closely with Bella Abzug, my congressional representative on the West Side. I know her well, and, of course, Betty Friedan. Betty started the whole idea of an international conference when she met with Kurt Waldheim at the UN last January. The topics we’re going to take on will be all-encompassing: equality in the workplace, voting rights, marriage equality, and reproductive rights, to name just a few. We’re shaking things up!”

The wine had arrived, and Nina raised her glass in a toast. “To women everywhere!”

“Indeed,” said Andrew, lifting his glass.

“This place has an almost hypnotic charm,” Dana remarked after the toast. “I think I’m going to ask for a tour when we finish lunch. I bet the rooms are adorable.”

The Inn at Phillps Mill,  Bucks County. PA

“We’ve already made great strides, thanks to the UN report last year on sexist attitudes around the world,” Nina continued without missing a beat. “The report found that the universal image of women was either that of a sex idol needing masculine approval or a merry homemaker fussing over dust mops and laundry. And who do we have to thank for that? The ad men of Madison Avenue! Now that we have all this good information, we can develop a plan of action! We won’t be second-class citizens any longer!”

Lunch arrived, and Nina continued to talk about Betty Friedan, her idol and a woman who many considered to be the founder of the modern women’s movement.

“Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique should be given to every college freshman woman!” Nina said, her voice growing louder with each sip of chardonnay. “They’ll quickly learn that the Mrs. degree they are frantically working towards is not all it’s cracked up to be!”

Andrew smiled, looking at Dana and then at Nina. “We’re behind you, Nina. It’s good to get these things off your chest, but maybe we should speak a little lower. I think the waiter has been giving us the eye for the past few minutes.”

“I’ll tell you what I got off my chest today, Andrew. Clothing! I’m not wearing a bra! What a symbol of oppression, as if women need to wear harnesses. Pour me another glass of wine please.”

Dana, Andrew, and Nina returning to New York from Winterberry Christmas Tree Farm in Bucks County with Dana and Brett’s Christmas tree