There is something particularly enjoyable about a female villain in fiction, written for readers who expect women to be pure, perfect, and positive. I did a podcast miniseries in 2012 on jaw-droppingly awful, truly appalling female characters, all behaving badly. It was immense fun to research and write, because these characters are so vile that when I’m reading them, they … Continue reading Outrageous bullying for the good of the family in G B Stern’s The Matriarch
Expect energetic storytelling in this excellent novel about the manipulative life and marital sufferings of George Eliot. It’s also a gently funny love story between Max Duncker, a vain and very young dilettante publisher and the thunderingly hearty Sophie, a German countess who never glides gracefully when she can pound across a ballroom. Other pleasing details in … Continue reading George Eliot with the gloves off: Patricia Duncker’s Sophie and the Sibyl
Mitfordians and class observers, be advised that Noblesse Oblige produced a sequel. That 1956 collection of essays edited by Nancy Mitford, subtitled ‘An Enquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy’, spawned a sequel in 1969 called What Are U?, edited by her collaborator, Professor Alan Ross. Nancy Mitford's contributors were semi-serious and strongly literary, including John Betjeman and his immortal … Continue reading Noblesse Oblige 2: What Are U?