Surreysmum's Reviews > Violet; Or the Danseuse V1: A Portraiture of Human Passions and Character

Violet; Or the Danseuse V1 by Marian Dora Malet
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May 30, 10

bookshelves: 1981, general-non-fiction, 19th-century-anonymous, library
Read in July, 1981

[These notes were made in 1981; I read the 1836 edition in 2 vols.:]. 2 vols. This book afforded me two kinds of pleasure. The second, and more conventional, was the reading of it. The first, occasioned by the surprising appearance of "D'Israeli" on the spine, was a bibliographical hunt. Well, of course, the cataloguer was right. It's not by D'Israeli, and the best the British Museum and the NUC can manage is a tentative attribution to "--- Beasley". [2010 note: I see that another attribution is made in the goodreads database]. And the book itself? "Not bad, really," she said patronizingly, "for a circulating-library-kind-of-book." Of course, it's a bit difficult to swallow a novel whose catastrophe hinges on class difference in these days, but that's hardly the author's fault. The shape of the book is very good -- one feels happy with the allocation of space to each phase of Violet's unhappy career. At times, however, the psychological analysis in which the author delights is either superficial or muddled, and we get the feeling he/she is in over his/her head. The novel openly opposes a cliché, and makes its heroine a virtuous opera-dancer (in a world of less-than-virtuous ones, of course). But this is a drawing-room novel -- there is little evocation of the opera-house; we look in vain for another Nana. D'Arcy, the aristocrat roué who learns too late, runs to type, and Violet is too weepy for words once she finally consents to elope and be ruined. (Was one "ruined" at the moment of elopement, or at the first moment of carnal relations, I wonder? Theoretically, it should be the latter). Not a bad little read.
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