I was lucky enough to win a book token in a prize draw at a recent British Library event, so have just been for a mini-splurge at City Books, Brighton’s lovely independent bookseller. I’m particularly excited about Eliza Lynn Linton’s Realities (1851), now available again nearly 160 years later, thanks to the inestimable Valancourt Books. Lynn Linton is one of the most intriguing Victorian women writers, most famous for her anti-feminist essays The Girl of the Period. Although bitterly opposed to women’s rights, she herself led a distinctly unconventional lifestyle and often portrayed feisty heroines who defy social norms. In Realities:
Beautiful young Clara de Saumarez, strong-willed and impulsive, runs away from her aristocratic family to London to become an actress after her father punishes her with a dog whip. In London, she becomes an acclaimed actress, but disregards social conventions by living with her theatre manager, Vasty Vaughan. Clara’s beauty inspires the love of three men: the lecherous Vaughan, the handsome but rigidly Calvinistic curate Edward Mantell, and the kind Socialist Percival Glynn. But as Clara’s story unfolds, she begins to be aware of the unpleasant realities around her, including her own equivocal social status, the inequalities facing women, and the suffering of the working class. (from the blurb)
This one is top of the pile for next week’s holiday reading, so a review will be forthcoming on my return.
Not Victorian, but still nineteenth-century, I plumped for Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground. My partner needs to read it for her PhD and I thought it would be a bite-sized introduction to the author for me. To my shame, I’ve never read Crime and Punishment, but hope this will inspire me to rectify that fault once I’ve finished all the Florence Marryats (ten to go). So many books, so little time. Perhaps I should have chosen the novels of Emily Brontë as my thesis topic…