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As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The…

As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson

by Rodney Bolt

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713247,413 (4.15)18
  1. 00
    The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler (nessreader)
    nessreader: Way of all flesh is a novel about monster victorian sanctimonious paterfamilias; Life of Mary Benson is about a real one, her husband the archbishop of canterbury. Both books are hilarity-propelled rants that are in the end touching.

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Surprisingly delightful. I was expecting something scandal-ridden and rackety but in fact we get a story, improbable but very real, of a warm-hearted and intelligent woman, caught in the web of victorian England married to the Archbishop of Canterbury , no less. He's an authoritarian stuffed surplice, marries her as a near-child bride, obsessed for her yet cold. She realises from the start that she has no physical feelings for him, but remains loyal, bearing a brood of children. She has little formal education , but holds her own in conversation with the greatest in the land and writes letters of elegance and insight. She goes through a whole series of pchildrenassionate relationships with other strong women. When he dies she instantly loses her entire stats in society, almost like a Hindu widow, but she keeps going and maintains a home for her adult children all of whom are as intelligent and cultured as she is, though ranging between the neurotic and the clinically insane. Amazing story, deeply researched, elegantly written. ( )
  vguy | Oct 5, 2017 |
Good, well written biography - she was wife to Edward Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and quite a matriarch, and brought up a brood of very talented, if somewhat odd children - several of whom became quite well known (E F Benson) and mixed with many of the key figures of the age. ( )
  dgbdgb | Jul 24, 2011 |
Really very good. I read it because of this Guardian review:
which gets it pretty spot on. ( )
  annesadleir | Jun 17, 2011 |
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'As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil' tells the extraordinary story of Mary Benson and her family, bringing the late Victorian and early Edwardian period vividly to life.

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