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Honourable Estate by Vera Brittain
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Honourable Estate (1936)

by Vera Brittain

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So much eye rolling at Brittain's heavy handedness with her characters. Much like her Victorian predecessors who like to present paragons of Victorian femininity (think Esther in Bleak House), Brittain presents the paragon of the women's right's activist pre- and post-WWI. Her characters aren't complicated: they are either bad, like Mr. Rutherford; perfect, like Ruth; or simply sympathetic, like Denis. It's difficult to disassociate her from Ruth so it felt like she was trying to present herself as a perfect, intellectual socialist pacifist. Bottom line, eye rolling. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
What an ambitious novel -- full of ideas, political commitment, some well-conceived and dramatically rendered characters ... and yet, it's verbose, sometimes tediously didactic, even prophetic. It's interestingly autobiographical and clearly aimed at putting personal experiences into their place in the sweep of intellectual and social history.
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
At times, Brittain paints an interesting picture of Great Britain in transition from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras through to post-WWI. Yet she so often slips into didacticism that I was continually bounced out of the narrative just as I started to be interested in the characters. I can appreciate her wish to show the struggle for women's rights and the anti-war movement, but a more subtle writer would have been able to show it through her story and her characters, rather than constantly lapsing into lecturing. ( )
  gwyneira | Mar 2, 2010 |
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To G.
with love

And in memory of
E.K.C.
who worked for a day that
she never saw
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At Evening Prayer on Wednesday before Easter, the Reverend Thomas Rutherston, Vicar of Christ Church, Upper Sterndale, went up to the lectern to read the Second Lesson.
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In the fresh sorrow of bereavement, Janet Harding marries the kindly vicar who befriended her during her mother's last illness. Too late, she discovers the difficulties of life with a clergyman and throws herself in the suffragette cause. But her dreams of emancipation must give way to the responsibilities of an overburdened wife and mother. Stephen Allendeyne, smug heir to Dene Hall, prides himself on his union with Jessie Penryder, an impoverished governess with social ambitions. At odds about almost everything else, the couple find harmony in opposing their daughter's new-fangled ideas about work, ideas and independence. Then in the aftermath of WWI, two lovers meet through work in Eastern Europe. Overcoming the scars of the war and their own pasts, the couple succeed in forging a new kind of partnership.

VIRAGO EDITION:
Vera Brittain's second novel is a powerful and moving story of three generations struggling with the realities of twentieth-century marriage. In the fresh sorrow of bereavement, Janet Harding marries the kindly vicar who befriended her during her mother's last illness. Too late, she discovers the difficulties of life with a clergyman and throws herself into the suffragette cause. But her dreams of emancipation must give way to the responsibilities of an overburdened wife and mother...
Stephen Allendeyne, smug heir to Dene Hall prides himself on his union with Jessie Penryder, an impoverished governess with social ambitions. At odds about almost everything else, the couple find harmony in opposing their daughter's new-fangled ideas about work, ideas and independence...
Then in the aftermath of WWI, two lovers meet through work in Eastern Europe. Overcoming the scars of the war and their own pasts, the couple succeed in forging a new kind of partnership.
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