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The Morgesons

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  394 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Elizabeth Stoddard combines the narrative style of the popular nineteenth-century male-centered bildungsroman with the conventions of women's romantic fiction in this revolutionary exploration of the conflict between a woman's instinct, passion, and will, and the social taboos, family allegiances, and traditional New England restraint that inhibit her. Set in a small seapo ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Penguin Classics (first published 1862)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
2.5★

If you are from the States, you may have a different perspective on this novel. It was very unusual for a North American woman to be writing novels in this era (the 1860s) & Cassandra was such a different heroine - outspoken, ungracious & unpredictable.

But the plot (if you could call it that) became stalled & I started having trouble recollecting what I had read when my Kindle was still in my hands!

I had another brief try while I was on holiday, but frankly when you are in Martinborough it i
...more
Bettie
Jan 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Bettie by: 19thCenturyLit
Description: Set in a small seaport town (1862), The Morgesons is the dramatic story of Cassandra Morgeson's fight against social and religious norms in a quest for sexual, spiritual, and economic autonomy. An indomitable heroine, Cassandra not only achieves an equal and complete love with her husband and ownership of her family's property, but also masters the skills and accomplishments expected of women.Counterpointed with the stultified lives of her aunt, mother, and sister, Cassandra's succe ...more
Sara
3.5 slightly confused stars.

This novel is a rarity, in that it is an American novel of the Victorian era written by a woman. It is full of New England whale-oil financed lifestyles, and paints a fascinating female perspective of the time.

In the beginning, it felt like this was destined to be just a group of vignettes of life as seen through the eyes of an upper-class girl, but it evolved into something much deeper than that. I could not shake the feeling, however, that there were too many things
...more
Steph, The Academic-Errant
Visit me at my blog: http://bookingthroughgradschool.wordp...

5 out of 5 stars

FAVORITE QUOTES: "Even drawn battles bring their scars." OR “I became a devourer of books which I could not digest, and their influence located in my mind curious and inconsistent relations between facts and ideas."

FOR READERS WHO: enjoy first-person narratives, like the poetry of Emily Dickinson, want a more mature coming-of-age story to add to classics like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre

REVIEW: If Emily Dickinson w
...more
Wanda
Free at Project Gutenberg-- http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12347

21 AUG 2015 - I am both intrigued and frustrated by this book. So much happens off-the-page. I wish we, the readers, were included in more of this action.

23 AUG 2015 - There are chapters where I feel as though I have somehow missed the point. I honestly put this to the style of writing Ms Stoddard chose for this novel. Her vague narrative style of writing (where we are told the story from Cassy's point of view yet are not informed
...more
Cheryl
Aug 05, 2015 rated it liked it
It took me three attempts to finish reading this book. The writing style is not my favorite, but the story itself was interesting. It's a more modern take (for the time in which it was written) on following the life of a woman, from childhood to adulthood. I didn't always like the things that Cassie did, but she was always interesting to follow.
kel
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, strange, and radical novel. Enchanting and perplexing, yet full of little details that create a feeling akin to realism, especially for a modern reader, as Cassandra and her family almost seem to have been stolen from the future. I do not understand reviews calling it dull, for me it was riveting. However, as an older sister with a dissimilar younger sister and a penchant for acting out when I was younger, I perhaps related to the book more than the average reader would.
Becky
Mar 14, 2009 rated it liked it
"That child," said my aunt Mercy, looking at me with indigo-colored eyes, "is possessed."

Have you heard of Elizabeth Stoddard? I hadn't either. Not until I stumbled across this book while looking for Steinbeck. In the introduction, it explains a bit why this author fell into obscurity although during her lifetime she was compared with such greats as Balzac, Tolstoy, Eliot, the Brontes, and Hawthorne. (If your library doesn't have a copy, you can read it online here.)

Is it an exciting read? a thr
...more
Laura
Jan 24, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Wanda
Free download available at Project Gutenberg. ...more
Matthew
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
The Morgesons starts out great. Stoddard's writing blew me away and seemed to be right on the cusp of a Modernist voice. This enthusiasm lasted for around half of the book, though, and started to become flat after Cassandra returns home from Charles and Alice's house. The last half of the book is exhausting to read, not because it is difficult, but because Stoddard lost some of the magic that she started out with.



The Morgesons reminds me a lot of a Jane Austen book with its emphasis on familial
...more
Kubra
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was looking for an untypical nineteenth century novel and The Morgesons satisfied me to a great degree. Especially the first half of the book, where a lot more action was happening, characters were quite unconventional and conversations witty. After that it gets a bit dull. As some reviewers mentioned, I felt like some important details were left nebulous. The end felt hurried. I can't make much of Desmond. Nevertheless, it was a fresh breath of air.

Edit: I like it better on second reading
John Gillespie
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Upon learning that Stoddard was a contemporary of Hawthorne and Melville, I wondered, "Have I ever read a novel by an American woman of the nineteenth century?" I've read scores of novels by British women of the time, but, aside from Kate Chopin and Harriet Beecher Stowe, where are the works of their American sisters? If you have similar questions, I recommend Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons.

A good book lingers in the imagination, and I suspect several scenes from The Morgesons will haunt me
...more
Zoey
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Morgesons, probably one of the dullest books that I have ever read. Like most fiction of the period it was extremely hard going and lengthy. There isn't much excitement, and if I'm honest, I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to carry on reading it. However, the social and historical significance of this novel cannot be ignored. As a reflection of early Nineteenth Century American society, it an extremely rebellious novel. Through the character of Cassandra, Stoddard contests many social con ...more
Morgan Feltz
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel is completely ahead of its time, reading similar to a work by a modernist instead of work written during the civil war/American renaissance. The two sisters, Cassandra and Veronica are entirely strange in the best way. Cassandra’s humor during the first third of the novel was so great I kept rereading bits. It’s a definite coming of age story that focuses on Cassandra’s battle against societal and gender norms. The romances in the novel are either problematic/unnatural or, for just on ...more
Sarah
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mali
A strange book, and one I'm surprised isn't more widely read. Not even 50 ratings on goodreads? It's definitely worthy of more attention.

I saw it compared to Bronte and Gaskell, and while it definitely has structural similarities to Jane Eyre and shares some of Gaskell's interests, it's also very American and of-Massachusetts.
Ella Stettner
Sep 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
Oh my word, this book. Uggghhh. I just can't even. Like, what exactly was the point of it? I didn't care about any of the characters, and even thought it was only 250 pages, it dragged on and on and on and had very little plot. The characters were strange and the writing unexceptional. Probably the worst thing I've read this year. Just, no.
Cheryl Jensen
This novel was 'rediscovered' in the 70's when an effort was made to recover early American female authors. Stoddard's called the American Bronte. It was hard for me to really like the book because I didn't really like the protagonist. But then, Emma drives me nuts, too.
lindsay
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
so fucked up, i love it, people just start bleeding a lot for no reason.
Sim Kern
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
A strange, inscrutable book about how strange and inscrutable other people are. You can never know what's going on in someone else's mind!
Carolyn
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-good-one-yes
A coming of age tale, a woman's life in nineteenth century, so men were the all important thing. However there are parts where the women's equality fight starts showing through in the females of the family. Yes, it's a slow going read, but so were works by the men of that time. Hawthorne, whose works I've enjoyed for example. I am so glad I found this gem in my library book sale for a quarter. So for those saying it's too dull, I say give it a second try when your life is moving at a relaxed pac ...more
Mary
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is tragically underrated. Fans of the Brontes with find Cassandra a blend of Jane Eyre’s Bildungsroman and Wuthering Heights’s grotesque romance. I read this for an American women writers course at the graduate level but this is suitable for all readers, and frankly, I believe it should be taught more in high school. It’s gorgeous and perverse, provocative and grotesque and really one of my new favorites.
LadyKatieReads
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely one of the weirder books I’ve read this year, but I kinda enjoyed it? This book is intentionally anti-sentimental, which is probably why the rating isn’t super high. It’s unconventional in its detachment from feeling and disjointed narration. I can’t even describe the entirety of the strangeness in this novel. Let’s just say I probably wouldn’t have read it if my professor hadn’t assigned this novel for class, but I don’t hate it 🤷🏻‍♀️
Pipkia
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: obscure-women
An early example of that literary chimera, the mythical feminine Bildunsroman. I did end up quite liking it, though it was a little inconsistent. The heroine was self-assured, knew her own mind and if I didn’t quite bond with her, I could recognise her importance as a fully-rounded female Biludngsroman protagonist from that time. The parts that I did love belonged, like my heart, to her sister Verry: a wraithlike, tempermental being of no little wit and puckishness.
Katherine
“The chambermaid was already there, and had thrown open the shutters, to let in daylight upon the scene of the most royal dreams I had ever had. The ghost of my individuality would lurk there no longer than the chairs I had placed, the books I had left, the shreds of paper or flowers I had scattered, could be moved or swept away.”
Brenda Morris
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Interesting story of a young woman's development in a restrictive environment, but a bit slow paced.
Clary
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Stoddard was a funny lady! A couple of times, I laughed aloud. This was a slightly bumpy read, but overall lovely, with some really heartwarming moments.
Mary
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Not too shabby. Poor Ben but maybe not. And Desmond. Hmm. Interesting.
Calvin Olsen
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Read for a class. Took forever to get going and then fast-forwarded the ending on the very last page, but I ultimately got into it more than I thought I would.
Emily
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
If you ever need rigid Protestants, humorless New Englanders, Puritans, dreary, stone-faced people who trudge through a grim half-life before taking up another space in the family plot where the past generations of people who bear their names are resting eternally at the mercy of an implacable God. Cassandra and her emo sister Veronica, she of the unlikely dialogue, were intentionally spared the fate of bearing names already carved on tombstones, but beyond that their lives are set to resemble ...more
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Women's Classic L...: Morgesons- Chapter 30 to 41 4 13 Feb 01, 2019 05:55AM  
Women's Classic L...: Morgesons- Chapter 1-15 18 19 Jan 31, 2019 07:11AM  
Women's Classic L...: Morgesons- Chapter 16 to 29 2 12 Jan 22, 2019 10:38AM  

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Elizabeth Drew Barstow studied at Wheaton Seminary, Norton, Massachusetts. After her marriage in 1852 to poet Richard Henry Stoddard, the couple settled permanently in New York City, where they belonged to New York's vibrant, close-knit literary and artistic circles. She assisted her husband in his literary work, and contributed stories, poems and essays to the periodicals. Many of her own works ...more

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