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Deerbrook

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  70 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Told with humor and compassion, Deerbrook prefigures the later Victorian novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontës, and George Eliot. When the Ibbotson sisters, Hester and Margaret, arrive at the village of Deerbrook to stay with their cousin Mr. Grey and his wife, speculation is rife that one of them might marry the local apothecary, Edward Hope. Although he is immediately ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published 1838)
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Aubrey
Chances are good that, in many a Goodreads shelf ordered by original published date, there is a gap in female authored literature from the end of Austen to the beginning of the Brontës. What few I have myself in that region were all, save for this, found in the pages of 500 Great Books By Women, which shows how conscientious the search must often be for older female authored works outside the usual monolithic surnames. It becomes even more disheartening when all such discovered names originate f ...more
Claire
Mar 17, 2010 Claire rated it liked it
Deerbrook has been on a shelf in my office at home for decades! I finally picked it up this winter. It's 500 pages long and a bit of a snoozer at times, but I found it fascinating. Martineau was a reformer, not so much a novelist, and she has created (1838, I think?) two highly intelligent young women and tracked their fates.
There is tons wrong with this book, starting with the page-long chunks of high-minded, stilted dialogue and including, too, a rather too deeply malicious woman character an
...more
Jennifer Wixson
Aug 30, 2012 Jennifer Wixson rated it really liked it
Deerbrook

I like Deerbrook on so many different levels it's hard to know where to begin. As a Quaker minister, I like the book for the underlying Christian themes of turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor as thyself, which themes Harriet Martineau weaves throughout but especially in the 2nd half of the book. I like the novel because it's not just a novel but a platform for social change, thus we are instructed exactly how to live a better life even as we are swept away to a different world, a

...more
Sarah
Mar 26, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sara M, Cammy, Malini, fast readers who enjoy Victorian literature
Recommended to Sarah by: Charlotte Brontë, posthumously
Quite a lot like Austen and Eliot, with a swirl of Trollope for good measure. For the first half of this very long book, I thought it might be a perfect, hidden treasure from the 19th century. I read it on tenterhooks, hoping against hope that the novel could sustain that level of excellence. The characters, the premise, and the occasional emergence of a sly, Austen-ish narrative voice had me dreaming big.

Unfortunately, though, the second half got a bit long and over the top--it reminded me more
...more
Paul Blakemore
Jun 10, 2012 Paul Blakemore rated it really liked it
Often described as a prototypical Middlemarch, it has similarities in its overarching authorial view and its wide-ranging concern with small, rural lives. The surprising difference that struck me was whereas Eliot was looking to examine the minutiae of everyday life and exult the small and often overlooked moments that make up our happinesses or despairs, listening for 'the roar on the other side of silence' as she puts it, Martineau suggests that the key to happiness is actually in not examinin ...more
Leslie
Oct 31, 2014 Leslie rated it liked it
Enjoyed it much more than I expected, though I must say it is frustratingly long. This is a domestic novel that occupies an interesting space of conservative reform. Marriage is still good but idealized expectations of marriage are bad; using structure for I'll is bad but well-knit community is essential; striving for change is fine, but accepting circumstances and therein changing oneself is sometimes better.
Mike
Apr 18, 2012 Mike rated it did not like it
In the history of the Victorian novel, this is an important book; and Martineau is an important person in Victorian lit. But for contemporary readers, this is a...hard read, and by 'hard' I mean boring. Really boring. It just doesn't work as a novel. But PLEASE do not tell my beloved Victorian Lit professor :)
Evanston Public  Library
After the death of their father, the Ibbotson sisters, Hester and Margaret, move to the village of Deerbrook to live with their cousin Mr Grey and his family. The village apothecary, Edmund Hope, falls in love with Margaret but is compelled to marry Hester. He and the two sisters then become the objects of malicious gossip that threatens to destroy Edmund's livelihood and the sisters' relationship. Originally published in 1839, Deerbrook presents a vivid picture of early Victorian village life, ...more
Leonie
May 10, 2013 Leonie rated it it was amazing
This feels like both a typical and unusual Victorian novel. The sensibilities can be quite intense, but it's not a Bronte type thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I know a lot of people lack patience with both melodrama and calmer portrayals of Victorian family life. There's also a lot of preachiness, but it's integrated quite thoroughly into the plot; Martineau is interested in how morality works in the events of life, I think.
Kristin
Jul 11, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it
Harriet Martineau was the first sociologist, and this novel is an excellent study of small town life in England in the nineteenth century. Martineau had a keen eye for language, customs, and social mores of her time, all of which are faithfully reproduced in Deerbrook, making it a fascinating trip through time for a twenty-first century reader.
Anne-katrin Clemens
Oct 26, 2015 Anne-katrin Clemens rated it did not like it
Shelves: university
I've never read a less entertaining book. I wasted so many hours of my life with this. And if people wonder why I bothered with it: I had to read it for a class.

It's fine if you don't agree, many people in my class didn't. But I personally consider this one of the most boring books I've ever held in my hands.
Andrea
Jul 14, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it
This surprised me. I had it on my 'reading for improvement' list but now I would have it firmly on my reading for pleasure.
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Harriet Martineau (June 12, 1802 – June 27, 1876) was an English writer and philosopher, renowned in her day as a controversial journalist, political economist, abolitionist and life-long feminist. Martineau has also been called the first female sociologist and the first female journalist in England.
More about Harriet Martineau...

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