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The Doctor's Wife

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  816 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
When The Doctor's Wife was first published in 1864, Mary Elizabeth Braddon was well known for her scandalous bestseller, Lady Audley's Secret. Adultery, death, and the spectacle of female recrimination and suffering are the elements that combine to make The Doctor's Wife a classic women's 'sensation' novel. Yet it is also Braddon's most self-consciously literary work and h ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1864)
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Jun 20, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
This book was really uniquely done. The beginning was pretty slow as you meet different characters and the story is set up. It starts with a young doctor but after he is married the point of view is switched to his young beautiful and childlike wife whose obsession with literary figures keeps her in a fantasy world and causes pain and disappointment to others. Reading the book using the notes at the end is a must unless you know every Dickens and Thackery character and know English poetry by hea ...more
Braddon was the queen of Victorian sensation novels, like Lady Audley's Secret; although the heroine falls in love with a man who's not her husband, The Doctor's Wife isn't really a sensation novel. Braddon was clearly trying to transcend her genre (and rewrite Madame Bovary) in this story of Isabel Gilbert, the eponymous heroine, and her love for Roland Lansdell; their affair is pointedly not consummated, and Isabel's emotional and mental growth is really the main point of the story.
Jul 29, 2011 Ian rated it liked it
I'm a big fan of Victorian Sensation fiction of which Elizabeth Braddon is one of the leading lights. Sadly (for me) this was her one attempt at writing a literary novel. It's a sympathetic portrait of an ill-conceived marriage (EB deliberately borrows the initial premise from Mme Bovary but takes her novel in a different direction). However, although well-written, it was not the page turner had been hoping for,
Perry Whitford
Sep 11, 2014 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it
Isabel Sleaford is a pretty girl with a head full of the idealized dreams culled from literature and the grandest models of romance, personified in Edith Dombey and Lord Byron: 'She wanted her life to be like her books; she wanted to be a heroine,—unhappy perhaps, and dying early'.

George Gilbert is a 'candid, honest, country-bred young man' who 'could sit in the little parlour next the surgery reading Byron's fiercest poems, sympathizing in his own way with Giaours and Corsairs; but with no pass
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
I'm marking this book down as Duly Forgotten.

This is an interesting book as an intersection of literature and feminism...but it doesn't go much beyond that. I read it as a digital copy that for some reason was split into two volumes/files. I didn't realize this when I started, so as I neared the end of the first ebook I was like, hm, that's interesting, I wonder how the story is going to resolve in time. Turns out, it didn't! That's because it was just volume 1. So I started volume 2...and quick
Dec 13, 2013 veronica rated it liked it
One of my favorite things about Victorian literature is that it shows the variance between social mores from that time and today's. The level of scandalosity that arises from a young woman being seen speaking with or taking a stroll with a man who is not her husband is hilarious.

In "The Doctor's Wife," a young woman named Isabel gets married to a young man named George. They are both nice enough people, but they are terribly suited for each other. To use a food analogy, George would like nothing
Apr 15, 2012 Marjolein rated it liked it
I cannot help but think that this novel would have greatly benefited if the author had reduced the number of pages by half. The novel starts of incredibly slow; it is only in the last 100 pages that it actually picks up steam. Moreover, one gets rather weary of the amount of repetition of certain phrases which are related to the sentiments of the protagonists. All in all, this was not the worst novel I have ever read, but definitely not the best either.
S. L.
Aug 16, 2013 S. L. rated it it was amazing
So many people complain that books from this era are long. I think books today are short and leave out the most interesting bits. Compared to this, Madame Bovary comes out as the equivalent of 'They married, and then they were run over by a truck. ' This is an imitation of that work, by someone who loves novels and had a different take on what an imaginative wife who loves novels would do when faced by a seducer.
Another Braddon that we read for Jennifer's class. Genius. I actually loved this book. I can see so much of my younger self in Isabel - living in books, wanting to be a heroine, being misunderstood and misunderstanding the nature of the world. Not really a page-turner like Braddon's other books, but just a lovely, interesting read.
Aug 04, 2011 Academama rated it really liked it
This is a bit purple in [a lot of] places, and the "sensation novel" aspect feels tacked-on; it comes in near the end as though to check that box in the publisher's list of criteria. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. Braddon makes incisive comment on the inadequate education of women.
Sep 17, 2007 rachel rated it it was ok
miss gilbert is very unsympathetic as a main character, though some of the secondary characters (such as the author sigismund smith) are interesting. underwhelming, especially from the author of lady audley's secret.
Feb 06, 2014 Lydia rated it really liked it
This book could be of special value to an academic writing a work on the portrayal of upper-lower class seduction in Victorian England. It references the harmful effect of literature (such as Dombey and Son in a snide mention Dickens must've enjoyed!) on impressionable young female minds. The Doctor's Wife lives in a silly dream world she created to escape her terrible upbringing and family disgrace. She means no harm, but longs for the beautiful and memorable in her mundane existence. But when ...more
Jul 09, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, fiction
After reading Lady Audley's Secret, it was a given that I would return to Braddon. Both Lady' Audley's Secret and The Doctor's Wife are both classed as women's "sensation" novels. Both have a touch of class and both are interesting in seeing the evolution of two women as they marry and yearn for a more exciting lives.
Unlike Lady Audley, The Doctor's Wife, nee Isabel Sleaford, is a childish dreamer, immersed in books of romance and poetry and dreaming of being swept off her feet by a knight in
Apr 08, 2010 Helen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Isabel Sleaford lives in a dream world filled with characters from novels by Dickens, Scott and Thackeray. She longs to break away from her boring existence as a children's governess and live the exciting life of one of the heroines in her favourite books. When parish doctor George Gilbert proposes to her, she accepts but quickly finds that her marriage isn't providing the drama and adventure she's been dreaming of. George is a good man, but he's practical, down to earth – and boring, at least i ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it
I've always had a hard time reading "the classics" so I wasn't sure when this book was recommended to me how well I would like it but I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the way this book was written much better than most of the classics. I often find myself drifting off because of the wordiness of the books. I didn't have that kind of problem with this book, while there were plenty of words they were done in a more entertaining way.

I did find the first half of the book better than the second ha
Apr 03, 2014 Lois rated it liked it
I really liked this book. Started off good but I had to get through the extremely flowery language and the long descriptions of everything. After the first chapters the above did not bother me so much. A twist at the end that I really did not expect had me crying my eyes out. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Barbara Ab
Feb 22, 2015 Barbara Ab rated it did not like it
I stopped listening (a librivox recording) at the end of chapter 6. Boring too death!! Too descriptive! No interest aroused in those chapters neither for any of the characthers nor for the plost. In addition the reader's tone and voice were boring too!
Diane Johnson
Jun 12, 2015 Diane Johnson rated it liked it
I'd give it 3 1/2 stars. A psychological thriller!
Mar 23, 2013 Cory rated it it was ok
About the only good thing I can say about The Doctor's Wife is that it makes me want to read Madame Bovary - other than that, it's the typical longwinded, painstakingly detailed and didactic Victorian novel. Actually, it's worse, since Braddon isn't nearly a Flaubert (or an Eliot, a Dickens, a Hardy...). I just couldn't help wanting to strangle Isabel throughout the entire text. The prose is overwrought to the point of hinging on parody - perhaps the direction in which Braddon ought to have take ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it
Light, romantic reading from the mid 19th century, written in homage to Flaubert's Madame Bovary
Feb 17, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 07, 2011 Clare rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
Even for the melodramatic ME Braddon, this is a bit OTT! I did get a bit bogged down in the high flown moralising of the tale (Doctor's Wife falls in love with someone else)... and the ridiculously flowery language (MEB must have been paid by the word).... I think I'll wait for a while before going back to Aurora Floyd or Lady Audley's Secret.
Danielle Carpenter
Jan 20, 2013 Danielle Carpenter rated it it was ok
I was aggravated with heroine of the particular novel. She was young and stupid. She had so common sense or wisdom. I've read books and had a fantasy life in my head at times, but I also see the world how it is and I know what it takes to make my own happiness is a troubled world. All I can say is the woman was foolish.
Jan 11, 2015 Penelope rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather (Capricious Reader)
I think this is really more of a 3.5. Need to think on it some, it's early yet to completely decide, but it's not a 4 and I don't think it's a 3. So 3.5 will do.
Aug 03, 2015 Payten rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! It was my first book by Mary Braddon and I'm excited to read her other works!
Apr 16, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Obvious Flaubert background but repositions Braddon's place in literature. Very good. Loved Sigusmond Smith!
Dec 07, 2012 Laura marked it as to-read
Shelves: e-books, gutenberg
Free download available at Gutenberg Project.
Riley Dawson
Oct 04, 2013 Riley Dawson rated it liked it
Karen Marchand
May 25, 2013 Karen Marchand rated it really liked it
A good, dark tale....
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Mary Elizabeth Braddon was a British Victorian era popular novelist. She was an extremely prolific writer, producing some 75 novels with very inventive plots. The most famous one is her first novel, Lady Audley's Secret (1862), which won her recognition and fortune as well. The novel has been in print ever since, and has been dramatised and filmed several times.

Braddon also founded Belgravia Magaz
More about Mary Elizabeth Braddon...

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“Being a very quiet young man, without much to say for” 1 likes
“George Gilbert took his life as he found it, and had no wish to make it better.” 1 likes
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