Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

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Overview

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale, Wanda McCaddon

"I think people marry far too much; it is such a lottery, and for a poor woman-bodily and morally the husband's slave-a very doubtful happiness." -Queen Victoria to her recently married daughter VickyHeadstrong, high-spirited, and already widowed, Isabella Walker became Mrs. Henry Robinson at age thirty-one in 1844. Her first husband had died suddenly, leaving his estate to a son from a previous marriage, so she inherited nothing. A successful civil engineer, Henry moved them, by then with two sons, to Edinburgh's elegant society in 1850. But Henry traveled often and was cold and remote when home, leaving Isabella to her fantasies.No doubt thousands of Victorian women faced the same circumstances, but Isabella chose to record her innermost thoughts-and especially her infatuation with a married Dr. Edward Lane-in her diary. Over five years the entries mounted-passionate, sensual, suggestive. One fateful day in 1858 Henry chanced on the diary and, broaching its privacy, read Isabella's intimate entries. Aghast at his wife's perceived infidelity, Henry petitioned for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Until that year, divorce had been illegal in England, the marital bond being a cornerstone of English life. Their trial would be a cause celebre, threatening the foundations of Victorian society with the specter of "a new and disturbing figure: a middle class wife who was restless, unhappy, avid for arousal." Her diary, read in court, was as explosive as Flaubert's Madame Bovary, just published in France but considered too scandalous to be translated into English until the 1880s.As she accomplished in her award-winning and bestselling The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale brilliantly recreates the Victorian world, chronicling in exquisite and compelling detail the life of Isabella Robinson, wherein the longings of a frustrated wife collided with a society clinging to rigid ideas about sanity, the boundaries of privacy, the institution of marriage, and female sexuality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452638010
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kate Summerscale is the author of the bestselling books The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher and The Queen of Whale Cay.

Wanda McCaddon has won more than twenty-five AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for The Seamstress by Sara Tuvel Bernstein, for which she also earned a coveted Audie Award. AudioFile magazine has also named her one of recording's Golden Voices. Wanda appears regularly on the professional stage in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace is a non-fictional accounting of Victorian woman’s diary and her secret love. Isabella Robinson was an upper middle class woman married to a successful businessman with whom she had three children. One could say Isabella had it all – a wealthy husband, plenty of servants, plenty of fashionable clothes and accessories, and the perfect family. Despite all this, Isabella was not happy. She was trapped in a loveless marriage with a difficult, cold man who was away from home most of the time. He had two illegitimate children, a sign that his own moral values were corrupt. Her unhappiness led to Isabella falling hopelessly and lustfully in love with Dr Edward Lane, the son-in-law of a family within her closest social circle. In a secret diary, Isabella diligently recorded her innermost feelings, desires, and thoughts as her passion for the married Dr Lane turned into obsession. As her marriage failed and led to divorce, her diary was used against her by her infuriated husband and mocked for its scandal in the media at the time. Her husband had stolen the diary and used it against her in his divorce suit on the grounds of her adultery. The case culminated in a choice for Mrs Robinson to declare herself sexually active and immoral or insane. She chose to be labelled immoral and be disgraced, thus erasing any moral after-effects on Dr Lane and his family. This book provides readers with an accurate depiction of how difficult and complex life for Victorian women was and the dilemmas they faced in matters of sexuality and married life. Excerpts of the diary are interspersed in in the factual, historical accounting of this famous case. All in all, it is a fascinating case story and an important historical event worth reading about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sounds like it's a novel (and a saucy one at that), but it is not. At all. Not by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is a very fascinating, deeply researched examination of marriage, divorce, sexuality, family, women's rights, and shifting social and moral values in Victorian England and Scotland, focussed around the experiences of a handful of specific people. Definitely an engrossing and informative read, but certainly not saucy or a novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tried to be both novel and journalistic account. Should have been one or the other. Consequently did not succeed as either. Historically interesting.
TheRelentlessReader More than 1 year ago
If you've read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher you already know that Kate Summerscale can write fascinating nonfiction. Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace is certainly no exception. One thought that I kept having while reading this was how very glad I am to be a woman now, rather than in the 1800s. Mrs. Isabella Robinson was put on trial for adultery after her husband read her diary. Did it matter that Mr. Robinson himself was a known adulterer? No. Men were excused to behave in certain ways and women were expected to take it. Women were expected to be chaste, even within their own marriages. If a woman enjoyed sex...sought out sex? Hooo boy. She must have a disease of the uterus! She must be insane! Hysterical! Kate Summerscale uses the trial of Mrs. Robinson to explore the framework of Victorian life and she does it wonderfully. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reads like some Eng Lit Major's final thesis. Not at all what I expected...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Knowing what this book is about, it's hard to turn the pages knowing of the ultimate humiliation awaiting her. But the reader is compelled to keep going to see if Mrs Robinson prevails. Married to a nasty, money-grubbing husband, Mrs Robinson seeks affection elsewhere. The ensuing legal battle takes place just as the English courts allow divorce to be more available and affordable. The husband, himself involved in another relationship, wants a divorce so he can have his wife's property, and he wants to sue her alleged lover so he can get his money too. Not only a salacious tabloid tale, the legal and historical research is impressive.
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The book jacket makes "Mrs Robinson's Disgrace" seem like its the exciting romance of Mrs Robinson, and her downfall from grace as, she is a married woman. I was ecxited to read it, yet was sadly disappointed to realize that it as a meare retelling, in book report form, the story of one woman. Unless you enjoy boring, make you want to read a medical dictionary for fun type of work, I wouldn't waste your prescious time on this book.
nikkie80 More than 1 year ago
Nice to see marriage in the eyes of someone in a different time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The description made it seem as if it would be a real story of a Victorian lady-juicy stuff. Instead, it is more like someone's class project. Dry and not overly absorbing. Didn't even finish it. Would like my money back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasaaaaaaaaat it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what I was expecting!! Just an everyday story of the usual tramp with too much time on her hands.... Waste of money!!!!