lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
The Clever Woman of the FamilyThe Clever Woman of the Family by Charlotte Mary Yonge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, Yonge is not progressive for her time. The central thesis of this book is that women need the firm intellectual guidance of wise men so that they don't become ridiculous and dangerously foolish. A woman left to mull things over on her own is a time bomb waiting to explode.

But don't let that stop you from reading this fantastic novel. Rachel, the "clever" woman of the family, is constantly making silly blunders and providing comic relief until suddenly she isn't. This is an emotional roller coaster of a read; it begins firmly in the humorous vein (almost Wildean in wit and tone) and then becomes very serious in ways that I didn't expect.

I really don't want to spoil the story, but it's full of romance, mystery, peril and genuine pathos. Also, in spite of Yonge's conservative world view, the novel is pretty feminist in ways she may not have intended--female authors, women lamenting the lack of useful occupation available to them, and women taking decisive/heroic action.

Highly recommended.

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