By June Vail
Professor of Dance Emerita
The edelweiss pin at Gertrude’s throat signifies her Swiss-American heritage and her autonomy as a woman activist. Gertrude’s “life’s work” is perfecting humankind, morally and socially. Confronting Gilded Age double standards, she advocates for sex education, marriage equality and “voluntary motherhood.” After she marries, Gertrude leaves Washington DC to explore opportunities in Boston, Maine, and Switzerland. But conflicting family duties and loyalties derail her ambitious crusade, and when an incurable illness ends her activist career, Gertrude must seek new meanings in her life and death.