Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace (edition 2012)

by Kate Summerscale

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5243819,294 (3.46)66
Title:Mrs Robinson's Disgrace
Authors:Kate Summerscale
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2012), Edition: Export/Airside ed, Paperback

Work details

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)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 66 mentions

English (34)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All (38)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
"An extraordinary woman...the first that ever kept a record of her own infamy"
By sally tarbox on 28 March 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
An intensely interesting, unputdownable read, that follows the unhappily married Isabella Robinson's social life through her late 30s and 40s. A middle-class wife and mother whose apparently unpleasant (and certainly faithless) husband is often away, the charming and intellectual Isabella spends much time with her friends, the Dryesdales. And here she begins to fall for their married son-in-law Dr Edward Lane (and a couple of others along the way)...
It's a slow-burner, as she confides to her diary. One day she imagines he feels something but next day he's merely a friend... until at last she recounts a blissful encounter to its pages...

When her husband discovers the shameful narrative, he instigates divorce proceedings, and this forms the second half of the book. Dr Lane furiously refutes the diary entries as the ravings of a madwoman, and specialists are brought in to pronounce on her possible insanity...

A fascinating look at 1850s divorce laws and the different treatment of men and women. As in her other works Ms Summerscale does have a tendency to ramble a bit, but the descriptions and anecdotes are most interesting if not always totally relevant. ( )
  starbox | Mar 28, 2017 |
I found this book ultimately unsatisfying. In the end it all falls apart as you realize that the author doesn't really know what happened, and doesn't even have the full text of the famous diary. Mrs. Robinson's life after the divorce case is just dimly outlined. I think a novelist could have had a lot of fun with this, but there just plain wasn't enough solid information for a biographical work. In stead it is padded with trivia that isn't to the point. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Sep 18, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
In memory of my grandmothers, Nelle and Doris, and my great-aunt Phyllis
First words
(Prologue) In London in the summer of 1858, a court of law began to grant divorces to the English middle classes.
In the evening of 15 November, 1850, a mild Friday night, Isabella Robinson set out for a party near her house in Edinburgh.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

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)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
177 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.46)
1 2
2 7
2.5 8
3 39
3.5 22
4 40
4.5 4
5 9

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,180,589 books! | Top bar: Always visible