A republished 19th-century novel which describes a woman too large for conventional society, who accepts marriage as her only semblance of freedom, of her exuberance which both captivates and outrages and her enduring love for the one man whose struggles mirror her own....
|Number of Pages||:||432 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
This was Jewsbury's first novel, begun as a collaboration between herself and Elizabeth Paulet, with criticism by Jane Welsh Carlyle, but finished by Jewsbury. It's overwritten in spots, but powerful and undoubtedly shocking to her readers, as Jewsbury portrays the passion between a married woman (Zoe, the heroine) and a Catholic priest. I was somewhat bored by the parts having to do with the priest and his religious doubts, but I was much more engaged with Zoe's story, wherein Jewsbury questions (as she does in The Half Sisters) women's roles in society. Also, I really liked the friendship between Zoe and Lady Clara, which could so easily have devolved into jealousy and catfighting; instead, Jewsbury gives them a relationship in which each supports the other.
This book was written in 1845, but at times the insights, the attitudes, the irony, and even the language all feel very modern. At the same time it is full of high melodrama (people are overtaken by sudden death, and the female characters tend to respond to emotional upheavals by lying prostrate on the floor). The structure is a bit wobbly (for example, one of the main characters, a priest who lost his faith in a way which at least some readers will identify with - not because of a woman but because of honest and rational questioning - disappears only to return magically at the end. The characters are all interesting and well-drawn but even though the central character had an affair with Mirabeau (yes, that Mirabeau!) the major political upheavals of the outside world don't appear to impinge, even though the Mirabeau connection would put the date of the events at just before the French Revolution. Geraldine Jewsbury is a writer who is too little known nowadays although in her heyday her writing was acclaimed, even though she was regarded as scandalous.