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Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace (edition 2012)

by Kate Summerscale

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4753521,755 (3.46)57
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

  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 32 (next | show all)
This is the story of Isabella Robinson, a woman who made the mistake of a) marrying an a-hole and b) keeping a diary of her feelings, flirtations, and, possibly, indiscretions. In 1858, England started allowing faster and cheaper divorces and Mr. Robinson was first in line, accusing his wife of infidelity based on the diary that he found in her desk while she was ill. What followed was a battle in the public eye over whether she was an evil adulteress or a typical woman, deranged by her malfunctioning uterus.

The book really got to me. It was difficult to read how women were marginalized and abused, both by society and by the law, in Victorian times (and earlier). Isabella moved in rather grand circles and one of her purported lovers owned a health spa, frequented by the likes of Charles Darwin and female authors Dinah Maria Mulock and Georgiana Craik. It was this doctor who put up the defense during the divorce proceedings (because he was named as co-defendant) that her journal was nothing but fantasy, a writing exercise, and that she had such vivid imaginings because of her female troubles. The book does not come to a conclusion as to the veracity of the journal but we as readers do come to the conclusion that Isabella was very unjustly treated by one or more men in her life.

http://webereading.com/2016/02/mental-health-and-victorian-or-modern.html ( )
  klpm | Feb 27, 2016 |
This was an interesting window into the inequality of the treatment of women with regard to marital issues, specifically when divorce became more accessible to the masses. The idea that the court wanted to find the author of the diary guilty of adultery but find her named partner innocent was amazing to me! Then if they couldn't do that, they wanted to call her insane. Good grief! So glad that times have changed.! The book was well read by Wanda McCaddon, though I found the structure to be a bit choppy.
( )
  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
In Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, Kate Summerscale explores a high profile 19th-century court case, just after England passed laws permitting married couples to divorce. Isabella Robinson's husband Henry brought the case against her, using her diary as the chief source of evidence. But how reliable was her account? By 21st-century standards, she was the victim -- her crime being that of seeking companionship and sexual satisfaction not possible in her loveless marriage. But the laws and culture stigmatized women who expressed desires, and the public was shocked by her wanton behavior.

This specific divorce case was an interesting way to shed light on one aspect of women's rights in the Victorian era, and it also described how divorce laws evolved during the time it was working its way through the courts. The book lacked the suspense of Summerscale's previous book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which read much like a true crime novel. As a result, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace was not quite as captivating, but still a passably interesting way to learn about this period in history. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Feb 16, 2015 |
A well-researched microhistorical take on a particular divorce case in Victorian England, featuring Isabella Robinson and her salacious diary. Summerscale uses the case study to excellent effect, and the book is very readable and interesting as it delves into not only the specific case, but also the English ways of divorce, diary-writing, hydrotherapy, &c. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 7, 2014 |
I found this a little hard to get through at times but it was still interesting to read about one of the first women in England to be sued for divorce. ( )
  reigningstars | Dec 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:47 -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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