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bookwoman_cat said:
** 1/2 stars. Headstrong, high-spirited, and already widowed, Isabella Walker became Mrs. Henry Robinson at age 31 in 1844. Her first husband had died suddenly, leaving his estate to a son from a previous marriage, so she inherited nothing. A successful civil engineer, Henry moved his wife and their 2 sons to Edinburgh's elegant society in 1850. Henry is frequently away from home and remote when present. Isabella is left alone with a very active imagination. No doubt thousands of Victorian women faced the same circumstances, but Isabella chose to record her innermost thoughts - and especially her infatuation with a married Dr. Edward Lane - in her diary. Over five years the entries became more and more passionate, sensual, and suggestive. One fateful day in 1858 Henry chanced on the diary and read it. Aghast at his wife's perceived infidelity, Henry petitioned for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Until that year, divorce had been illegal in England. Their trial would threaten the foundations of Victorian society. Her diary, read in court, was as explosive as Flaubert's Madame Bovary, just published in France but considered too scandalous to be translated into English until the 1880s. Kate Summerscale recreates the Victorian world and writes in compelling detail of the life of Isabella Robinson. In this book the longings of a frustrated wife collide with a society clinging to rigid ideas about sanity, the boundaries of privacy, the institution of marriage, and female sexuality. Mild recommendation
posted Sep 3, 2013 at 2:01AM
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