Bookish Discussions

The Odd Women | A Remarkably Feminist Victorian Story

F8033239-7F1B-4933-9166-E6FDC5AE78C6

I think I love George Gissing.

I mean, I’ve only read two of his books, but he is magnificent.

One of my favourite Victorian authors of all-time. No doubt.

So, The Odd Women. Opposing the “New Woman” fiction of the era, Gissing satirises the image and portrays unmarried women as “odd” for not wanting to marry. Set in grimy London, these odd women range from the idealistic, financially self-sufficient Mary Barfoot to the Madden sisters, who struggle to subsist in low paying jobs and little chance for joy. Is marriage the be-all and end-all for Victorian women?

It is a powerful story of women fighting against their so-called “duty”: marriage.

Gissing wrote such emotive passages on the plight of marriage, especially seen through Monica Madden, who sadly gives into this ideal and lives a very unhappy life. Gissing suggests that marriage isn’t always the best option for women in the Victorian period. Yes, it might have secured them financially and advanced their social position, but it poses a threat to their health and happiness.

It was Monica’s story that was the most distressing to read. Viewed as the prettiest of six sisters, Monica’s duty is to marry. Growing up, however, she finds the Odd Women movement enticing. A life of liberty – with freedom to move as and when she pleases, to work for a living, to make her own choices? Heaven.

Continue reading “The Odd Women | A Remarkably Feminist Victorian Story”

Bookish Discussions

New Grub Street: A Book About Books

45592F32-BAF0-49A6-98DF-FC717A710EAF.jpeg

 

“Literature nowadays is a trade. […] He thinks first and foremost of the markets; when one kind of goods begins to go off slackly, he is ready with something new and appetizing. He knows perfectly all the possible sources of income.”

Rating: 4 stars

Read: 19 January – 31 January, 2019


George Gissing has quickly became a new interest of mine. New Grub Street was something else entirely – so unlike any other Victorian novel I’ve ever read. It was a very entertaining book about writing and getting published in the late Victorian society. As the Penguin Classics edition suggests,

New Grub Street is a social document and a story that draws us irresistibly into the twilit world of Edwin Reardon, a struggling novelist, and his friends and acquaintances in Grub Street including Jasper Milvain, an ambitious journalist, and Alfred Yule, an embittered critic. Gissing brings to life the bitter battles between integrity and the dictates of the market place, the miseries of genteel poverty and the damage that failure and hardship do to human personality and relationships.

Continue reading “New Grub Street: A Book About Books”