was to note that the original publication date was 1914!
And seemingly still so pertinent today in certain ways...
If you wish to read this book,
I would strongly suggest you access it (for free) through Google Books.
Though this was easy and convenient, after seeing others' comments regarding
the Persephone reprint, that would probably be a better choice!
I gather the introduction alone makes this version worthwhile!
Though I am no fan of reading books in eformat, I did it for this one. (Yuck!)
Please check the other Literary Wives reviews:
Naomi at Consumed By Ink
Kay at whatmeread
TJ at My Book Strings
Eva at The Paperback Princess (on break this month)
Kate at Kate Rae Davis (on break this month)
I know, I know, you all thought I was also on break this month!
I've been "on break" for quite a few months now.
I am blaming the fact that I had both knee joints replaced this summer.
Though I've not quit reading, I am just now getting back into blogging reviews...
at least for the Literary Wives! :)
Mary's husband, James, is extremely worried about his wife in the wake of losing her remaining daughter from the household. I admit to cringing when I read James calling his wife "little mother." Oohh! Ugh! That term just implied so much...that Mary was "little," as in she did "little," had "little" else in her life beyond her children about which she cared or could manage... So Mary is experiencing what we might now call "empty nest syndrome," when the children have all moved out of the house and are independent self-supporting adults. Though in 1914 children still would expect financial support from their family, if the family had money, which this family did. (I should be so lucky. :)) So, I believe I have revealed in the past that I did not experience such "emptiness" when my children were out on their own. Perhaps because I had been mentally preparing myself from the time of their birth: my job as a parent is to do my best to make then self-sufficient independent adults, NOT to try to hang on to them forever...as my own mother tried to do with me. (Yes, she did drive me crazy with her obsessive behavior...) I love my children, their partners, and my grandchildren, but I do my best not to make a nuisance of myself in their lives.
I had to chuckle as there was discussion about Rosemary's "socialistic" beliefs and opinions. See? Still pertinent today, huh. Oh, my. I just sigh... Rosemary suggests that her mother involve herself in the family business by investigating the working conditions and wages of the "girls" hired to work in the family-owned teashops. These "girls" were screened to determine that they were from relatively financially secure homes and still living with their families. After all, they wouldn't want any "rough" females who may be truly self-supporting! I had to laugh at this. To think that only about 100 years ago these attitudes were still ever-present in U.S. society. Any woman who was trying to support herself was evidently a 'hussy', a woman of ill repute! Thank goodness times have changed!
Women were still very much dependent upon their husbands, with little to no self-agency in general society. They were simply known as Mrs. Heyham, or Mrs. whatever her husband's last name happened to be. And so it was when James married Mary that he ended up taking over her family's business and successfully expanding it. However, Mary still retained legal ownership of half the business, which proves to be quite pertinent in the end. Mary learns first hand of the living situation of one of the teashop girls and is appalled by the depressing and cramped living conditions as well as the extreme poverty. Additionally, she learns of the very limited breaks allowed the girls during their work shifts and of the physical discomfort of their working environments and conditions. However, rather predictably, once Mary addresses these issues with James, she is rebuked as having no experience or knowledge to realize her requests are simply impossible to seriously consider.
Mary accepts his refusal, until she learns of his plans to take the business "public" and expand into a new business realm of movie production and theaters. At the same time, James confesses to Mary that he had cheated on her with a red-headed woman in the past, stating that he has never lost his love or respect for Mary, and that it was simply a "mistake." (Isn't that always the case?) Mary is so appalled that she moves out and is gone for 10 days, after writing to James that she refuses to approve his new business venture and make a public offering of the family teashop business.
Once Mary returns home, determined to take a more active role in the business and assert herself as an advocate for the employees, she is struck by a new realization: it was tough for women to realize that they were no longer "protected" by a man/their husband from the outside world. I had never fully considered that perspective before, but I'm sure it was true for many females who became 'enlightened' and more involved in everyday life. For Mary, it was a specific grief:
as a free person, as an equal.
Maud and Amber by Ruth Fry
What's next for Literary Wives?
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
Join us February 5, 2018