Category Archives: 18th Century

Mansfield Park: A mature but, for us, challenging novel by Jane Austen

Of all Jane Austen’s heroines, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park is surely the least appealing, the most ‘foreign’ to our age. Unlike Emma’s assertiveness and Lizzy’s humour, Fanny’s combination of self-effacement and moral conviction are at odds with modern core … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, British, Classic, Fiction, General adult audience, Novel, Novel of Manners, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poverty and money, men and women, limited-options and Victorian-era spinsterhood: The Odd Women is a thought-provoking, character-driven novel that explores what happens when women lack opportunities for independence

The Odd Women by George Gissing is a late Victorian novel that explores the personal and social implications of a surplus of spinsters. It follows the struggles, fortunes and (limited) choices of the three Madden sisters, whose father’s sudden death … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, British, Classic, Fiction, General adult audience, Novel, Realism, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Inventor of the post box and novel-making machine: Autobiography is the self-told story of one of my favourite Victorian novelists, Anthony Trollope

Autobiography by Anthony Trollope was an easy and amusing read. It focuses on Trollope’s two careers – as post office official and author – with only brief forays into personal life, although Trollope-as-a-person comes through on every page. Part of … Continue reading

Posted in Biography/Autobiography, British, General adult audience, Nonfiction, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our attitudes and experiences of near neighbours haven’t changed all that much in the last 160 years, if Emily Eden’s The Semi-Detached House is any guide

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden is a social satire written in the mid-19th century. When young Lady Chester moves into a semi-detached house in the suburbs she anticipates being forced into awkward intimacy with vulgar neighbours, whose daughters will … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, British, General adult audience, Novel, Novel of Manners, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spending time with a delightful dead guy: The Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb

I was curious about Charles Lamb after references to him in Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and I was surprised at how enjoyable The Essays of Elia and The Last Essays of Elia actually were. Published in magazines … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, Arts Criticism, Biography/Autobiography, Essays, General adult audience, Miscellaneous Non-Fiction, Social Commentary/Analysis, Travel and Geography Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Victorian novel about decision paralysis: Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope has a name that is a bit off-putting. It suggests an obnoxious main character who will be hard to sympathise with. I didn’t find this to be the case. The main character, Alice … Continue reading

Posted in Classic, General adult audience, Novel, Novel of Manners, Romance, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Country Gentleman and His Family by Margaret Oliphant

A Country Gentleman and His Family by Margaret Oliphant is surprisingly well written. Mrs Oliphant was a Victorian authoress who wrote novels to support herself and several dependents so was prolific but variable in quality. This book had skillful characterisation … Continue reading

Posted in British, Classic, Family Drama, General adult audience, Novel of Manners, Pastoral novel, Romance, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Esther Waters by George Moore

Esther Waters by George Moore strives for realism as it portrays the choices and struggles of Esther, a house servant, as she seeks to provide for her illegitimate son. Esther herself is a strong character but by no means flawless. … Continue reading

Posted in Classic, General adult audience, Novel, Realism, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Mary Barton is a story that looks at the difficulties of lower class people in manufacturing towns during the Industrial Revolution. It has some really engaging characters and charming story-telling. My enjoyment was up there with North and South and … Continue reading

Posted in British, General adult audience, Romance, Social Novel, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky

Before I read Crime and Punishment all that I had heard about Feodor Dostoevsky was that he was a Russian author and, whereas Tolstoy understood legalism, Dostoevsky understood grace. I’ve since found out that he is also considered one of the greatest … Continue reading

Posted in 18th Century, Classic, Crime fiction, General adult audience, Realism, Russian, Social Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment