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Mrs. Robinson's disgrace : the private diary of a Victorian lady
Kate Summerscale
Adult Nonfiction DA550 .S77 2012

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With intelligence and graceful prose, Summerscale gives an intimate and surprising look into Victorian life. A century before Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," a financially comfortable Victorian named Isabella Robinson defended herself in the newly created English divorce court over a mislaid diary filled with passionate erotic entries, philosophical musings, and complaints against her husband. Summerscale (The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher) suggests that Isabella fought to maintain her marriage to a controlling, tight-fisted husband (himself an adulterer) to protect the reputation of her alleged lover, Dr. Edward Lane, a hydrotherapist who treated her, as well as an ailing Charles Darwin and popular phrenologist George Combe. In two sections, the book first describes Isabella's flowery, coy memories of the doctor and others who offered her distraction; the second part focuses on her trial on an adultery charge and the scrambling of her male friends to preserve their reputations. Questions raised in the newspapers about Isabella's sanity and desperate need for attention, coupled with Lane's firm courtroom denials, clouded the truth for contemporary spectators concerning Henry Robinson's charge of adultery, resulting in a highly unusual 19th-century divorce case filled with salacious details and unsympathetic characters on both sides of the aisle. 8 pages b&w photo insert. Agent: Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd (U.K.) (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

On the surface, the mid-19th-century marriage of Henry and Isabella Robinson seemed both normal and successful: he was a well-off civil engineer, she an intelligent and spirited woman in her 30s; they had three children and a financially stable household in Edinburgh. However, the emotionally charged entries of Isabella's diary tell quite a different story. Unhappy with her husband's coldness and frequent absences, Isabella spent years confiding in her diary about her loneliness, her longing for intellectual companionship, and her passionate infatuation with a married doctor. When Henry chanced upon the diary, the situation exploded into a vicious divorce trial that filled the newspapers and dragged Isabella's record of her innermost thoughts into the public's critical eye. Following the pattern of her previous book The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Summerscale combines a thorough examination of her topic with a wider view of relevant social issues-in this case, Victorian attitudes toward marriage, divorce, and the figure of the unhappy housewife. VERDICT A deft unraveling of a little-known scandal that should appeal to any reader interested in women's history or the world behind the facade of the Victorian home.-Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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