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Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace (edition 2012)

by Kate Summerscale

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388None27,617 (3.52)31
Title:Mrs Robinson's Disgrace
Authors:Kate Summerscale
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2012), Edition: Export/Airside ed, Paperback

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Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale

Recently added byAnneSteph, private library, SophieCale, goet0095, CliosLibrary, Dnaej
  1. 10
    The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (GCPLreader, souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Kate Summerscale's book, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, covers the details of an historical divorce case reference in Donoghue's historical novel. Donoghue's novel is a fictionalised account of an historical divorce case of a similar sort to the one covered by Summerscale's book.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Summerscale overwhelms this book with details that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual story. Famous people of the day and their flatulence problems etc. Research is commendable to a certain point. Overdone and it starts to feel like maybe the author just can't tell a story. Gave up halfway through, just too boring.
  flippinpages | Jan 27, 2014 |
Well researched non-fiction book focussing on the life of Isabella Robinson, an upper-middle class lady in Victorian England who was trapped in a loveless marriage. She confided her private thoughts to a diary which gave her husband enough material to start a divorce-procedure, which was rare at the time.
This story is well-documented and elaborates not only on the fate of Isabella Robinson, but also dwells on the life and fate of upper-class-women in the Victorian era who were completely dependent of their husband. ( )
  JustJoey4 | Nov 18, 2013 |
True story of one of the first divorces in England. A few to many characters in the beginning (I had to make a chart.) Did not realize it was a true story when I started, was more interested when I found out it was. Good reader. ( )
  Tarkie | Aug 18, 2013 |
Holy shit, this looks super interesting. Found it on NPR's Summer Reading List (where I bet the other six or eight of my GR friends also saw it). I could totally read this thing.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
I read this book a few months back (can't believe I didn't review it straight away as I enjoyed it immensely), around the time if you got on a London train it was with about five other women reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Set during a particularly difficult time for women (sexually, socially, legally, psychologically - you'd think a female monarch might have eased the way for change or something…), this is the story of Isabella Robinson, an unhappily married middle-class woman who found herself in the middle of divorce proceedings brought on by a rather despicable husband, one who was not exactly a paragon of virtue himself.

Not that his infidelity mattered because this was an era of double-standards where women were meant to live up to high expectation, whilst being looked upon as mental midgets liable to faint of the vapours at any given moment. Henry Robinson quite mercilessly drags his wife through a fresh and young divorce court, using her diaries as ‘evidence’ of her infidelity, for revenge and to suck on her finances some more.

It’s a bit of a sad story really, easy to mistake as a gothic romance gone bad. Isabella’s crime seems to be boredom and a lack of direction for her intelligence, imagination and passions. Added to this is being married to a right old bastard and falling for the wrong man, subsequently having all her dirty laundry aired rather publicly. Even the way her husband discovers her secret is right out of a Bronte novel. So for this reason, despite the tragedy of the tale, I did read it with the kind of morbid glee you would reserve for a miserable gothic tale.

Having said that, I didn’t find Summerscale’s telling of the tale to be skewed in anyone’s favour. I found it to be quite balanced in depicting the experiences of both Robinsons. If Isabella comes across as the more sympathetic of the ‘characters’, it’s simply because the odds were stacked against her like any woman in her position at that time (and the future if present politics across the world keep up the regression).

A very good read. ( )
2 vote h_d | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Yes, on the surface of it, Kate Summerscale's new book is a straightforward account of misplaced love and misguided betrayal. Like her award-winning The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, it blows the dust off long-forgotten people and events, and sees in them the seeds of literary inspiration. If Mr Whicher was a model for writers of detective stories from Wilkie Collins on, Mrs Robinson is a real-life Lady Isabel Carlyle, the sexually obsessed wife in Mrs Henry Wood's 1861 bestseller, East Lynne. (She also resembles, as her publisher trumpets, Emma Bovary, though she surely wasn't that character's inspiration: the dates don't tally.) But Mrs Robinson's Disgrace is also a vast section of Victorian thought in microcosm, a breathtaking achievement its author pulls off almost casually in (discounting her extensive notes and bibliography) 226 scant pages.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140881241X, Diary)

From the number one bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of Victorian scandal On a mild winter's evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone terrace lit by gas lamps. The guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in glinting silk and satin pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats and neckties. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was at once enchanted by a Mr Edward Lane, a handsome medical student ten years her junior. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:58 -0400)

Traces the story of a scandalous trial that rocked Victorian England, describing how Isabella Robinson recorded sexual fantasies in her private diary, which was discovered and read by her husband, who petitioned for divorce on the grounds of adultery.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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