History alumna and author Sophie Perinot ’86 returned to Wooster Wednesday afternoon to speak about her recent book Ribbons of Scarlet, where she “feels at home.” Part of a larger tour to promote the publication, Perinot spent time with aspiring student writers and visited with her former professors in addition to speaking with the Wooster community.
Reading from the historical fiction novel as well as sharing quotes from characters, Perinot drew parallels between her own experience at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. in January 2017 after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, and a march that took place more than 220 years earlier on the Palace of Versailles for the women in Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women. Set in late eighteenth-century France, the novel tells the story of the women who wrote, fought, and held leadership roles in the Revolution. “More than 30 years after I sat in women’s history classes here at The College of Wooster,” said Perinot, “women are still too often left out of telling of historical events, even those where they undeniably play cutting edge and leadership roles.”
Perinot explained that Ribbons of Scarlet, written in collaboration by a total of six authors, helps to fill “this void in the telling of the stories of the French Revolution” to an audience that included her Independent Study advisor and the David Moldstad, professor of English emeritus, who Perinot still corresponds with. Though she found her passion in history at Wooster, he considered her “an honorary English major.” Perinot credits her experience at the College for helping her through the transition to a historical fiction writer from her career as an attorney. “Wooster taught me that what was important was communicating well in writing and orally, and asking the right questions,” she said.
While on campus, Perinot also had lunch with students majoring in English, as well as sociology and others, who took an interest in her work. “As an aspiring writer myself, I appreciated Sophie’s honesty when talking about the difficulties of the writing and publishing processes, and it was evident how much she truly enjoys her career,” said Ellie Kahn, a senior majoring in sociology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. “The intent behind the stories she chooses to write—of historical women who have been left out of traditional narratives—mirrors what we are taught here at Wooster, which is to think critically and advocate for who or what has often been disregarded.”
Expressing how grateful she was to be able to “do something fun,” as she embarks on this book tour that includes 27 stops for her throughout the country in the next two months, Perinot said, “coming home to Wooster” is something she’ll look back on as a fond memory.