stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
[personal profile] stapsreads
I picked this book up and put it down again several times, on several separate visits to the same charity shop, before eventually deciding to buy it. I'm glad I did; it was a lovely, affirming story.

I was originally put off the fact that it deals extensively with the Romantics, who to be frank I find a bit of a bore. However, given that one of them was Mary Wollstonecraft, I succumbed.

It was a bit odd, actually. Imagine an AU where a girl who was very similar to Mary Wollstonecraft went to Mary Wollstonecraft's school and echoed a number of her life choices. And imagine that there was a family very similar to the Wordsworth family, but that the Wordsworths still existed and in fact the Saygood family occasionally went to see them.

It was quite disorientating, and I'm not quite sure what the aim was. I can understand a reluctance to write about historical figures - but then, why put them in at all?

That aside, this was a very good read. Not only did it shed some light on a side of the Romantic movement I'd not thought about much (namely, what was going on the other side of the Channel) but it was primarily a story of female friendship, loyalty, love between mothers and daughters, and feminism.

Miss Wollstonecraft's academy was an ambitious one. Not only did the pupils learn enough smatterings of the major subjects to turn them into what Miss Everina called useful women; not only did they receive a thorough grounding in the essential skill of plain sewing; they were also exposed to the revolutionary teaching of their chief preceptress. She spoke with open approval of the approaching end of the tyrannical ancien régime across the Channel. She made them study French with her, since she yearned to go to France and see the revolution in the making there with her own eyes. She also talked passionately about the need for enlightened female education, and taught them to imagine the rights of women, which were not yet in existence. She urged them to think less of husband-chasing than of living active and independent lives.


stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)

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