Ann's Reviews > Beyond the City

Beyond the City by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Dec 26, 11

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bookshelves: fiction, anglophilia
Read in December, 2011

A sweet little Victorian curio.

You can't help but love a Victorian story in which, on page 15, a determined advocate of women's rights declares to the old spinsters who pay her a courtesy visit : "I am sorry that I have no tea to offer you. I look upon the subservience of women as largely due to her abandoning nutritious drinks and invigorating exercises to the male", and then proceeds to swing a pair of 15 pound barbells around her head.

This short book is full of funny little vignettes like the one described above. Another favorite of mine is the scene where the two dutiful Victorian daughters stage a tableau of dissolute behavior by inviting their beaux for an unchaperoned dinner party of champagne and oysters. Imagine their father's shock when he discovers them sitting on the sofa next to their fiances, smoking cigarettes in the dimly lit parlor!

Apart from that, the plot is thin, and many of the characters are stock Victorian stereotypes : the good-for-nothing brother, the elderly parents who will sacrifice every comfort rather than see their son's honor lost, the industrious businessman....

All in all : a delightful little entertainment that allows a contemporary, male (but overall sympathetic) look at the early women's movement.

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