Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

By Kate Summerscale

"I imagine humans marry some distance an excessive amount of; it really is this type of lottery, and for a terrible woman―bodily and morally the husband's slave―a very uncertain happiness." ―Queen Victoria to her lately married daughter Vicky

Headstrong, high-spirited, and already widowed, Isabella Walker turned Mrs. Henry Robinson at age 31 in 1844. Her first husband had died abruptly, leaving his property to a son from a prior marriage, so she inherited not anything. A profitable civil engineer, Henry moved them, by means of then with sons, to Edinburgh's based society in 1850. yet Henry traveled frequently and was once chilly and distant while domestic, leaving Isabella to her fantasies.

No doubt hundreds of thousands of Victorian girls confronted a similar situations, yet Isabella selected to checklist her innermost thoughts―and particularly her infatuation with a married Dr. Edward Lane―in her diary. Over 5 years the entries mounted―passionate, sensual, suggestive. One fateful day in 1858 Henry stumbled on the diary and, broaching its privateness, learn Isabella's intimate entries. Aghast at his wife's perceived infidelity, Henry petitioned for divorce at the grounds of adultery. until eventually that 12 months, divorce were unlawful in England, the marital bond being a cornerstone of English existence. Their trial will be a reason celebre, threatening the principles of Victorian society with the threat of "a new and annoying determine: a center type spouse who used to be stressed, unsatisfied, avid for arousal." Her diary, learn in courtroom, used to be as explosive as Flaubert's Madame Bovary, simply released in France yet thought of too scandalous to be translated into English until eventually the 1880s.

As she entire in her award-winning and bestselling The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale brilliantly recreates the Victorian international, chronicling in beautiful and compelling aspect the lifetime of Isabella Robinson, in which the longings of a pissed off spouse collided with a society clinging to inflexible principles approximately sanity, the bounds of privateness, the establishment of marriage, and feminine sexuality.

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