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Victorian Women's Fiction

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Victorian Women's Fiction

Postby Margaret » Mon November 24th, 2008, 9:39 pm

I just finished reading Nicola Slade's Murder Most Welcome (reviewed here), a mystery of uneven quality that I can recommend only with a lot of reservations (especially for readers in the U.S. who would have to import it). I was interested, though, in the author's choice to borrow to at least some extent the actual style of women's fiction authors of the time period. She specifically mentions as her own favorites Charlotte M. Yonge and Mrs. Henry Wood, authors who wrote sensational (but supposedly improving) novels for women during the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was fun looking up some of these two authors' books for the "companion reading" section of my review, and it reminded me of some of the B-list Victorian novels I read during in my twenties, when I went on a brief binge for them. Has anyone else read some of these minor Victorian authors?

I think there's a striking difference between the authors of that time and the modern authors who write about that time. Authors of the time tended to shy away from portraying the less acceptable human emotions in any characters but their villains, giving their novels a very artificial tone. Sometimes, though, that artificiality can be weirdly appealing. Modern authors write much more believably about that time period, because their characters seem like full human beings rather than having to fit into either the "paragon of virtue" or "monster of depravity" categories.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Christina
Reader
Location: Yorkshire, England
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Postby Christina » Wed November 26th, 2008, 10:41 pm

Hi Margaret - what an interesting subject! I haven't read a great deal of the fiction of the time and have - for some time - been intending to read something by Maria Correlli, solely because Queen Victoria had -with her daughter, Vicky - quite a discussion about her work. The gist of their conversation was that Queen Victoria really enjoyed this author, while Vicky, who was extremely intelligent and studious, considered it to be frivolous and superficial. Do you know anything of Maria Corelli?
Queen Victoria also enjoyed 'Jane Eyre' and Dickens...but Lady Constance Lytton - a great suffragette and philanthropist, whose mother was Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria - considered Dickens base and concentrating on the dark side of life...
I find fascinating the lengths of descriptions in Victorian novels because they just wouldn't work today. Many years ago, as a student, I recall having this discussion with a lecturer - nowadays we are so used to 'fast moving and action-packed' drama. TV and film is so immediate, whereas in that era people seemed to pay more attention to detail. It's interesting even to watch old films where things move more slowly. When that is tranlated to a novel, it is slower still.
Perhaps, then, those Victorian books wouldn't work today for that reason - pace. The whole subject is very interesting :-)

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu November 27th, 2008, 2:02 am

I'm not familiar with Maria Corelli. Of course, my Victorian authors binge was many years ago, so it's possible I read something by her but just don't recall the name.

One of the reasons, I think, for the big difference in pacing between Victorian fiction and fiction of our own time is that Victorian families so often read aloud to each other as evening entertainment, much in the way we watch TV today. And of course, TV has had terrible effects on the modern attention span. It's ironic, I think, because often television is so boring, but it does grab the eye even when it isn't engaging the mind.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Christina
Reader
Location: Yorkshire, England
Contact:

Postby Christina » Sun November 30th, 2008, 11:19 pm

Hi Margaret, I agree with you about television. I think there are some wonderful programmes but sometimes you can be in places where a TV is on without sound and your eyes are drawn to it. It's some kind of mental overload and so unlike the calm days of Victorian parlours where people sat and absorbed what was being read. It says a lot, too, about the power of imagination being crushed. If someone reads aloud and you can picture the scene, it encourages imagination. If you sit like a sponge before a TV screen...you're a sponge.

Anyway...here is a site about Maria Corelli, whom Queen Victoria enjoyed...

http://www.womenofbrighton.co.uk/mariecorelli.htm

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Mon December 1st, 2008, 5:12 am

Loved by readers, loathed by the critics ... the more things change, the more they stay the same!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

Debra
Newbie
Location: Northwest snowy Ohio

Postby Debra » Tue January 27th, 2009, 12:34 am

"Christina" wrote:Hi Margaret - what an interesting subject! I haven't read a great deal of the fiction of the time and have - for some time - been intending to read something by Maria Correlli, solely because Queen Victoria had -with her daughter, Vicky - quite a discussion about her work. The gist of their conversation was that Queen Victoria really enjoyed this author, while Vicky, who was extremely intelligent and studious, considered it to be frivolous and superficial. Do you know anything of Maria Corelli?
Queen Victoria also enjoyed 'Jane Eyre' and Dickens...but Lady Constance Lytton - a great suffragette and philanthropist, whose mother was Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria - considered Dickens base and concentrating on the dark side of life...
I find fascinating the lengths of descriptions in Victorian novels because they just wouldn't work today. Many years ago, as a student, I recall having this discussion with a lecturer - nowadays we are so used to 'fast moving and action-packed' drama. TV and film is so immediate, whereas in that era people seemed to pay more attention to detail. It's interesting even to watch old films where things move more slowly. When that is tranlated to a novel, it is slower still.
Perhaps, then, those Victorian books wouldn't work today for that reason - pace. The whole subject is very interesting :-)


However, I have thought Kate Chopins' book seemed extraodinarily contemporary..maybe she was just ahead of her time...

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Christina
Reader
Location: Yorkshire, England
Contact:

Postby Christina » Thu March 12th, 2009, 10:20 pm

Yikes!! This is many weeks late in response...sorry! What is the Kate Chopin book?


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