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How to create the perfect wife : Britain's…
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How to create the perfect wife : Britain's most ineligible bachelor and… (2013)

by Wendy Moore

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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)

Why did I pick up this book?
I had read through the summary and was really intrigued that someone had actually tried to create their ideal mate. It almost seemed like it could be a real-life Frankenstein of sorts. I wanted to see what it was Day was looking for and how he planned on achieving that being. a

How far into the story did I get?
Really not far at all. I got approximately 4 percent (14 pages) into the book before I realized that I just needed to put it down.

Why did we break-up?
It's never a good sign when you keep putting off reading a book once you have already started.I didn't look forward to picking it back up. It wasn't poorly written or even all that boring. It just turned out that we don't quite mesh at this point in my life. Maybe I'll try to pick it back up again at some other point.

Who might enjoy this book?
I think anyone who enjoys strange aspects of history would enjoy this book as well as someone who loves memoirs. I'm currently at the point where I'm enjoying more dialogue in my books, which is probably due to reading too many textbooks.
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
One of the most interesting books I've read in a long time, and one of the hardest to put down. Well researched and truly "enlightening" about one of my favourite time periods. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
I happened to see the cover of this book sticking out of my library's shelves and thought it looked very interesting, and for once I correctly judged the book by it's cover!
A fascinating tale about a, or maybe THE, real life Henry Higgins who tried to create the perfect wife. Unable to find any one woman to conform to his strict guidelines for wifey material, Georgian gentleman Thomas Day comes up with a scheme to mold a 12 year old orphan into his ideal spouse.
A fascinating piece of well-known history I knew nothing about! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
How would he ever obtain the woman of his dreams? Then out of the pit of his despair came a bold and daring plan...'
By sally tarbox on 14 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
The story of Thomas Day, writer, law student and man of property. His great longing was for marriage - but he had stringent demands:

'Day wanted a life-long partner who would be just as clever, well-read and witty as his brilliant male friends. He craved a lover with whom he could discourse on politics, philosophy and literature as freely as he could in male company. He desired a companion who would be physically as tough as he was...For all his apparently egalitarian views on education, Day wanted his future spouse to suppress her natural intelligence and subvert her acquired learning in deference to his views and desires...She would regard Day as her master, her teacher and her superior.'

Not surprisingly, his two early attachments to wealthy young ladies were both terminated (by them.) Day then conceived a plot: he would abduct two twelve year old girls from an orphanage and train them up for the position of wife - the better of the two would be selected. One blonde and one auburn came to live under his care; he provided academic learning, expected them to perform all household duties and even tried to 'toughen them up' by firing pistols nearby and dropping hot wax on their shoulders. Following the teachings of his idol, Rousseau, Day sought a perfectly natural and unspoilt woman.

How his experiment succeeded is told in this immensely readable work, in which other notable persons of the era such as Maria Edgeworth and John Constable also feature. If this happened today, it would be on the front page of the Sunday papers! ( )
  starbox | Jul 11, 2016 |
Thomas Day is very particular about the woman he wants for a wife and he can't find one so he decides to educate one, to create a perfect wife from an orphan he finds. He doesn't expect that she will rebel.

It's a good read, with interesting characters, and it does sometimes read like a novel rather than truth.

Interesting historical read. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Oct 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
“How to Create the Perfect Wife,” as delectable as any good novel, is also the best remedy for wrongs done long ago. It takes a girl who was plucked from obscurity to become an experiment, a paragon, a symbol and a legend, and it has made her a person once more.
added by lquilter | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (Apr 7, 2013)
 
How to Create the Perfect Wife aspires, not always successfully, to novelistic vividness. There are moving descriptions of life in the Foundling Hospital, and of the contrasting marriages—not to one another, in the end—of [protagonist Thomas] Day [1748–89] and his erstwhile ward Sabrina. . . . Ms. Moore has done an especially fine job of tracking Sabrina in archives and across England, even locating her previously unrecognized grave. How to Create the Perfect Wife is to be relished by those who enjoy slices of 18th-century life.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Michael Caines (Feb 10, 2013)
 
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To Peter, my perfect other half
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Spring sunshine warmed the ancient brick walls of the courtyards and chambers in London's legal quarter.
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Inspired by an admiration for the Stoics, the ancient Greek school of philosophy devoted to noble virtue and self-sacrifice, Day intended to live a frugal existence in a secluded rural retreat devoid of all comforts or diversions with only his future spouse for company. Impassioned by the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Geneva-born philosopher who urged a return to nature, Day believed that with the right partner they would both find joy and fulfillment in this austere isolation. And to gild his picture of happy married life, Day patiently explained to his fiancée that the "childish passion call'd love" was only a figment of the imagination that no rational being should indulge. (Chapter One, "Margaret")
Day wanted a lifelong partner who would be just as clever, well-read and witty as his brilliant male friends. He craved a lover with whom he could discourse and wrangle on politics, philosophy and literature as freely as he could in male company. He desired a companion who would be as tough and hardy as himself. In short, he wanted a woman who would be more like a man. But he was only human -- and male. So for all his apparent egalitarian views on education, Day wanted his future spouse to happily suppress her natural intelligence and subvert her acquired learning in deference to his views and desires. He wanted a wife who would be completely subservient to his wishes at all times. How then would he ever obtain the woman of his dreams? (Chapter One, "Margaret")
First Day demanded to know whether the talented Miss Milnes possessed the plump white arms he so admired. Small, with his professional eye for female physique, affirmed that she did. Did she then wear the long petticoats required by Day's stringent dress code? Uncommonly long, Small agreed. But was she also sufficiently strong, tall and healthy to endure Day's anticipated retirement to a humble country cottage? In exasperation, the physician retorted that Esther was actually quite short and not particularly robust. But how could Day, the doctor demanded, expect that an attractive, cultivated and charming woman with a large fortune and views that matched his own be formed "exactly according to a picture that exists in your imagination?" But this, of course, was exactly what Day expected. (Chapter Nine, "Esther")
Yet everyone could see that Esther was Day's consummate woman. In intellect, interests and ideas they were ideally suited: prim, philanthropic and passionate about poetry, Esther was a mirror image of her husband. It was a perfect marriage of hearts and minds, and they should have been perfectly happy. There was only one dissenter who believed that Esther needed any change -- and that was Thomas Day. In his view, Esther would require continual checks and corrections in order to fine-tune her character and conduct to approach his unattainable ideal. Her marriage would be one long program of improvement. (Chapter Nine, "Esther")
Unreliable and lazy -- a child who never grew up -- Dick would become permanently estranged from his father, who cut his eldest son out of his will except for a nominal sum. He would eventually settle in America, where he married and had children, but lived a life of dissipation and died young in 1796, aged only thirty-two. His father shed few tears. Ultimately Dick would provide Jane Austen with the model for "the very troublesome, hopeless son," Dick Musgrove, "who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead" in her novel Persuasion. (Chapter Nine, "Esther") [referring to Dick Edgeworth]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465065740, Hardcover)

Thomas Day knew exactly the sort of woman he wanted to marry. Pure and virginal yet tough and hardy, she would live with him in an isolated cottage, completely subservient to his whims. As Day soon discovered, the woman of his dreams didn’t seem to exist in Georgian society—but rather than concede defeat, Day set out to create her. He adopted two young orphans and, guided by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the principles of the Enlightenment, attempted to teach them to be model wives. Day hoped to eventually marry one of his wards, but the experiment inevitably backfired—though not before he had taken his theories about marriage, education, and femininity to their most shocking extremes.

In How to Create the Perfect Wife, acclaimed biographer Wendy Moore tells the captivating story of this bizarre experiment, illuminating the radicalism—and deep contradictions—at the heart of the Enlightenment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:28 -0400)

Wendy Moore's exploration of British writer Thomas Day's mission to groom his ideal mate captures the radicalism--and deep contradictions-- at the heart of the Enlightenment.

» see all 2 descriptions

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