In every sense of the word! I wasn't around at the weekend as I was laid low with a horrific stomach ache which necessitated a trip to the out of hours doctor for some extremely strong painkillers, which made me feel distinctly odd. Felt a bit better on Sunday, and well enough to go to a Pick Your Own farm, but am not feeling so good today and am very glad that I have the rest of the week off and don't have to struggle through work. So apologies for my absence.
Whilst we were waiting for the doctor to call us back, I decided I needed to find a book, and I'd planned to read a Persephone this weekend. Alas poor lady seemed an appropriate sort of title, but I have to say that it wasn't a great choice as it was a weight volume which I struggled to hold up, and it required quite a lot of concentration.
However, I did end up enjoying it when I read the rest of it yesterday. It opens with a fete in aid of the Gentlewomen's Protective Association, and shows us some distressed gentlewomen, and asks how do women get into this situation. The rest of the book show us how it happens by relating the life of Grace, the youngest daughter of a large, well-to-do family. It would take too long to relate the incidents of her life, and although it was a fairly interesting plot, what I liked best about the book was the description of life in the late 19th century and early twentieth century. So, early chapters deal with the daily routine, and then the yearly routine, before showing us how frustrating it is to be an unmarried woman in that period. One sister ends up going to a convent, another gets married, but the rest are left at home with not very much to do. Attempts to find employment are blocked by their parents, in particular their mother who refuses to help to change things. As spinsters they are viewed as a social embarassment, and thus it is inevitable that they will need to be helped by the Gentlewomen's Protective Association. In fact, the book ends on a happy note, as provided for by the GPA, Grace has a better way of life than she has had for years.
On Friday I read Mary Sinclair's Three Sisters, which was very good too - another green Virago. It takes the Bronte's lives as a starting point and explores the lives of three sisters living with their vicar father, each of whom are desperate to escape. Marriage is essentially the only option, and all three sisters individually pursue the new village doctor. In some ways it was another case of women leading frustrating lives pre-women's lib, and a bit depressing for that, but definitely one worth reading.
I did do a tiny bit of baking on Friday night, and I'll post about that in due course this week. I hope to get lots of reading done this week, but I have a fair few things on (am hoping to get to the Persephone bookshop on Weds!), and definitely need to catch up on some sleep and rest.
Mavis Gallant’s “Madeline’s Bithday” (1951)
6 hours ago