The Odd Women
A novel of social realism, The Odd Women reflects the major sexual and cultural issues of the late nineteenth century. Unlike the "New Woman" novels of the era which challenged the idea that the unmarried woman was superfluous, Gissing satirizes that image and portrays women as "odd" and marginal in relation to an ideal. Set in a grimy, fog-ridden London, Gissing's "odd" w...more
Odd women are those women who are left after all other eligible men and women have been paired in marriage. These women are not outcasts per se but definitely live a much different life than those who have a husband.
Some of the women in this novel embrace the distinction while others are so afraid of becoming one that th...more
Unlike an Issue novel like Ruth (oh, Elizabeth Gaskell, I like you, but that novel has some problems!), where the protagonist is primarily a bland vehicle for making a point, Th...more
The Odd Women explores the idea of all the “Odd Women” of Victorian England, those women left over after all the more marriageable people have been paired off. Some of the characters – particularly Rhoda Nunn and Mary Barfoot embrace their status as single independent women and in them Gissing rather satirises the “New Women” of the 1890’s.
As the novel opens in 187...more
The novel opens in 1872, with Dr Madden and his six daughters living together in a form of domestic harmony which has not prepared the daughters for independent life outside their childhood home.
Alas, this harmony is quickly destroyed. When the need arises for the sisters to earn an income, they face a number of challenges. It is hard for them to reconcile their middle-class respectability and their lack of employment related training wit...more
“"Mrs. Madden- having given birth to six daughters, had fulfilled her function in this wonderful world”
There is such gravitas in that sentence, especially in the contact of the rest of the scene where the audience is introduced immediately to a doubtful figure of a father who cont...more
His characters mostly fall into the poverty category and women, unless they marry well or are heiresses, have a rough time rising in society. There are wealthy women in this book along with "odd women," who are those who choose not to marry, to those unhappily married and those who survive through prostitution.
The marriage of Monica Madden, a st...more
'odd women' were single women, whether or not by choice. Gissing presents us the lives of 5 of them. The book is largely educational, yet reads quite well.
I got an impression of lives of the 'genteel' classes of the time. That awful stigma on having an affair with another man, or on a woman even being seen with a man at all. How easily one could ruin one's reputation and social acceptability. Frightening.
We hear quite in detail ab...more
I realize this book is/was a social satire, written by a man who evidently himself was a bit of a mess. I can't say I enjoyed much of it outside the rich style of writing characteristic of the Victorian/Edwardian era; the book itself was rather ruined for me after reading a footnote which explained Gissing's resentment and eventual abandonment of his own child, whom he deemed a "distraction" from his work - particularly, this novel, which was in progress during his son's bir...more
The setting is turn of the 19th century England. There are more women than men during this period and those women who do not possess the qualities (social class, money, looks) to attract a husband are labeled Odd Women. Two feminist women really really feminist for...more
This wasn't what I expected. As much as I enjoy escapism, I really dig these novels of realism. There is a connection with characters, love them or loath them, that reaches a whole different level.
I expected this to be a little dry, albeit interesting for it's ideas on emancipation. Instead, I became quite involved, if in a detached way, in the individual lives and stories, along with admiring the concepts and ideals behind it all.
The dramas that unfold are unromantic - offering neither the he...more
I'm so glad to have discovered George Gissing's work. It's a shame that The Odd Women isn't more widely read since it addresses issues of great importance to Victorian society: women's roles, marriage, the breaking of religious and cultural norms and gender inequality. Now, to be fair, Gissing isn't as ta...more
In this book the Madden...more
This is a story about women and their role in the late Victorian society. Back when it was a woman's job to marry and produce an heir and a spare. You know, before women were seen as living, thinking, capable human beings, but as mere w...more
So many odd women--no making a pair with them. The pessimists call them useless, lost, futile lives. I, naturally--being one of them myself--take another view. I look upon them as a great reserve. When one woman vanishes in matrimony, the reserve offers a substitute for the world's work.
Ok, so that exp...more
When I finished the book, I originally thought he had done a better job of portraying the women than the men, but after listening to others talk in the class,...more