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The Woman Who Did

2.88  ·  Rating details ·  160 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
The most notorious of the so-called "New Woman" novels of the 1890s -- a type of fiction inspired by contemporary debates about women's education, family life, and sexual independence -- The Woman Who Did was controversial from the start and eventually became a bestseller. Determined to arrange her own life, Herminia Barton enters a relationship outside of marriage with th ...more
Paperback, 92 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Echo Library (first published 1895)
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While not the typical moral tale of his contemporaries, this novel is a platform for views and opinions that were not at all the norm in 1895.
The author’s ideas and thoughts on marriage, England, war, property ownership and woman’s rights are on full view throughout this story. Though he married twice himself and this book is in fact dedicated to his wife, the premise of the story is that marriage is a form of serfdom for the woman, that she is in essence selling her body for food and a roof ov
The main impression I have as I read The Woman Who Did is the imposition of a male writer upon the supposed thinking and development of a woman’s thoughts and philosophy. In particular it conjures for me, a memory of a teacher who I would have to say was selfish in setting an essay topic on why people marry. I was in fifth form (now called Year Eleven) and she was still studying Sociology at university and sharing some of her texts and work there with our class. She was also just engaged.

It seem
Swarnadeep Banik
there are two kind of novels in this world - 1. (good, better, best, finest) novel and 2. novel's malnourished, neglected, revenge-prone half-brother - drivel. this is an astonishing thing that happened to me while reading this melodramatic drivel, that how could i finish its last approximately 15 chapters in one sitting? this is a mystery and i finished this book with lots of disgust but i had to, anyway. in the meanwhile, beckett helps surprisingly enough ("i can't go on, i'll go on!")! but, a ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noteworthy-women
The reviews here on Goodreads are greatly lacking in actual feedback regarding the novel, so I will attempt to give more of a review than I tend to do. First, this is a book written by a Canadian man about an English woman and her life in Europe. He addresses the New Woman movement - not my area of expertise - ask your teacher or Google it.

What's significant to me is his attempt to speak from a woman's mind on so deep a topic throughout the book. I know lots of authors do it. The way Allen gets
Sarah Harkness
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nelly
A very brief book, and mostly very easy to read. Massively political, but still from a slightly strange point of view - although Herminia (what a name!) is applauded for her determination to preserve her freedom and independence, her life is still a terrible and tragic failure. And there is no hope for the spinster - the author is quite clear that the whole purpose of a woman's life is to have a child! Must have been very depressing for its contemporary readers - the married ones would have felt ...more
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: conservatives
This is more a pamphlet than a novel. It is mostly interesting for its politics: The heroine enters into a relationship outside marriage because for her, marriage and feminism can never work together. From a nowadays point of view, the plot is more than banal, but the interesting aspects about the text are how the Victorian image of womanhood and radical reformist and socialist thought are mixed together amazingly well, but resulting in one big blob of melodramatic rhetoric.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've read some bilge in my time, but this beats most. There's not a single credible character in the whole farrago. It's social opinion dressed up as a novel, and it's not even well written. It's melodramatic and tedious at the same time. I can't remember a 'heroine' as stupid as Herminia.
So you may guess, I don't recommend it.
[These notes were made in 1988:]. What did she do? She had a sexual relationship with a man she didn't marry, and bore him a child. She also became mouthpiece and ideal for Allen's radical theories (socialism and free love). Oh yes, and when at the end, society had thoroughly beaten her down, and her own daughter repudiated her, she committed suicide. One would think the author was trying to discourage radicalism, would one not? But the impassioned authorial tirade near the end about the ill-eff ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read it for my college course on New Women Novels and found it surprisingly easy and linear. It has none of those long Victorian ramblings and tells the incidents in a straightforward matter-of-fact manner, which is good (except the tirade towards the end). The story is unusual and Grant Allen was HUGELY criticized in his days for portraying a woman, who lives in with a man and has a child outside marriage; and she does it to act on her principles, which proclaim that women should become mothe ...more
Sylvester Kuo
Allen appeared to have an obsession with exclamation marks... The Woman Who Did is a "New woman" novel about a independent woman named Hermia Barton who is strong willed in that she decided to never get married because she believed marriage is given men possession of the woman. Then she met Alan Merrick, a lawyer who believes her cause and the two remained lovers but unmarried. Soon tragic event happened and Hermia needs to decide if she could keep up her ideal.

I personally thought the writing w
Robin Edman
It's a definite period piece, by which I mean a piece of its period. The period in question has lots and lots of moralizing dialogue. This one has about that much more again of it. It's an interesting effort, but it's ultimately as sad a failure as the experiment it outlines.
Alan Pottinger
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, really captivated by it's social commentary so glad I stumbled across it.
Diatribe masquerading as a novel.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was better than having to read the Odd women but I still wouldn't read it on my own time. Also Grant Allen did not write a good book and I only read this book for class.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A pile of (misogynist) poo
Jan 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
hated it. this book made me want to invent a time machine so I could go back and kick the author in the shins. oddly enough, it is a relatively accurate prediction of the end result of women's lib. but the trite manner in which the author describes the protagonist's situation and attitude is infuriating.
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The Woman Who Did" is somewhat interesting as an historical document and account of the "New Woman" of the late nineteenth century, but it isn't when taken on its own aesthetic terms and its theme is rather antiquated (which is to be expected after a century's worth of progress for women) and ultimately self-defeating given the novel's ending. There's little doubt that Grant Allen had good intentions when he wrote the book, but it simply isn't that great of a read.
Is this a New Woman novel or a criticism on the New Woman ideas? What is the author trying to say? Is he trying to say anything? Who knows?
Not terrible reading though.
rated it liked it
Oct 13, 2011
rated it it was amazing
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Julia Greider
rated it did not like it
May 13, 2015
rated it it was ok
Feb 18, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Feb 07, 2017
rated it liked it
Jan 26, 2012
rated it it was ok
Aug 29, 2016
Paul Brennan
rated it it was amazing
Dec 17, 2015
Alan Hall
rated it did not like it
Oct 21, 2016
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Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen (February 24, 1848 – October 25, 1899) was a science writer and novelist, and a successful upholder of the theory of evolution.

He was born near Kingston, Canada West (now incorporated into Ontario), the second son of Catharine Ann Grant and the Rev. Joseph Antisell Allen, a Protestant minister from Dublin, Ireland. His mother was a daughter of the fifth Baron of Lon
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“if people begin by thinking rationally, the danger is that they may end by acting rationally also.” 0 likes
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