Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Consequences




Consequences is the first book I've read for the Women Unbound Challenge and it was an excellent choice. I read the book without any idea of the plot so I wasn't sure if this was fitting for the Challenge but then how could I go wrong with a Persephone book?

Consequences was written in 1918 by E.M. Delafield who ironically is more known for her domestic light hearted novels such as the Diary of a Provincial Lady. I admit I haven't read any of her other books but I'll definitely be on the lookout for them because I love the way she writes. Consequences is truly a departure for her being a serious novel with an underlying social commentary on the state of women during her time. Alex Clare is the eldest child of an English upper class family and the only expectations her parents have for her are to develop and polish herself at a foreign school, make her social debut and marry an eligible man. Alex is a victim of her time, unable to be happy being a social butterfly and incapable of committing to the one person who asks her to marry him. She is deemed a failure by herself and her family.


(from the Persephone Post, E.M. Delafield photographed for LIFE magazine six years after she wrote Consequences)

This is a deeply feminist novel because it questions the role and expectations of women of the Victorian era. There was really no choice for a woman from a good family but to marry and have children. Schooling was ultimately incomplete and girls were never taught to learn a trade. Alex was probably not meant to be a wife and mother however being a prisoner of her era she was powerless to find out what her ambitions were. She wasn't even aware if she had any.

Throughout the novel, I felt Alex's restlessness, her clumsiness, her unhappiness and her frustration. She is unable to break free from the confines of her own personality and yet feels envious at her peers' social successes and attractiveness to the opposite sex. She wants to make her parents happy yet is unable to do so if she stays true to herself.

Though a sad novel, I highly recommend this brilliant book. I could not put it down, I was completely riveted from start to finish. The last sentence  will really break your heart! Consequences really struck a chord in me because we've all been an Alex at some point in our lives or we've all known an Alex but somehow we all grew up and found our passions and niches in the world. Alex never did.



Women Unbound Challenge: 1 down, 6 to go.

13 comments:

  1. This was absolutely wonderful and such a different book to the Diary of a Provincial Lady. What a good start to the challenge!

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  2. What an excellent book to start the challenge! This is one of the many that I circled and starred in the latest Persephone catalog. Thanks for including the photo, too!

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  3. This looks like a great book, I am adding it to my reading list for the challenge. Thanks for the review. I love the photo from LIFE.

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  4. Wow! Sounds like such a great book - and what a way to start the challenge! I'll definitely be looking into this book - it sounds so interesting and your enthusiasm for it really shows through your review. Thanks!

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  5. Persephones are ideal for the challenge. This is one that immediately went onto my Persephone wishlist when I read my first blog review of it but sadly it has yet to make it into Paperback_Reader abode.

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  6. Fabulous review - you've sold me on it. SO glad you are participating in the challenge!

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  7. Delafield is obviously a born writer and very versatile if she could produce a novel like this one as well as the very dry and witty Diary of a Provincial Lady. I will look out for it.

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  8. I have this on my shelf and I must read it soon! I loved Diary of Provincial Lady which had me in stitches. Your review is just what I needed to spur me on to lift it off my shelf!

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  9. I'm glad that you were touched by this book. I had a similar experience when I read it. I'm sure many women during this time felt alienated because of their desires and life choices. It's wonderful that women have the courage to write about it. I too have never read anything else by Delafield but will keep my eyes open.

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  10. I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds intriguing. I might have to look into some Persephone titles as well.

    I love your background, btw!

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  11. I think I'll recommend this to my Feminist Book Club. All we're reading is theory right now and somebody suggested we read more novels.

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  12. Thanks for all your comments. I'm going to hunt down the Diary of a Provincial Lady since many of you recommend it and yes, Consequences is a perfect book for the Challenge. If you haven't made your list yet, do include this one!

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  13. I'll look out for this - I'm in the middle of the 3rd one of the Provincial Lady series (PL goes to America) and it is really funny, and just what I'm in the mood for right now.

    Lovely blog!!

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