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The Doctor's Wife

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,210 Ratings  ·  42 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, Oxford World's Classics, 464 pages
Published February 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1864)
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Jun 20, 2012 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
Annie Rosewood
I'm not quite sure how to evaluate this novel because my thoughts on it are all over the place. When I started to read it, I really enjoyed Braddon's style of writing. However, it quickly become repetitive. I'm not only referring to the Victorian tropes that she uses, as well as the flat, uninteresting characters, but the writing itself. I soon felt like I was reading the same thing - Isabel's naive fancies and her romantic views of life and death - over and over and over again. Braddon likes ...more
S. L.
Aug 16, 2013 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.
Jul 29, 2011 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,
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 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I know it's detrimental to my character to read these sentimental novels, but I can't help it- they're just so good!
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, written in 1864, is an interesting novel, or actually an interesting group of novels. One of its foundations and sources is Madame Bovary, and yet the depth of passion in The Doctor's Wife is not as interesting or intense. Another foundation is Sensation literature, but again, this novel does not nearly match the level and interest of Lady Audley's Secret. In other ways the novel has more than a winking relationship with Braddon's own life as a writer of Sen ...more
Perry Whitford
Aug 29, 2014 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
Nov 22, 2013 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
This is an excellent book and the wife of a doctor and her struggles with doctoring life at the finest and most precise level. Blood, gore, honor, courage under fire and more - current themes of a mind-bogglingly intercontinental, and fundamentally confounding journey through the secret life of a wife of a doctor -who actually learns more than the doctor and is able to do his work better than him, but due to the time and location of this piece, she is totally powerless to assert her expertise on ...more
Apr 11, 2012 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.
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.
Sep 17, 2007 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.
Aug 04, 2011 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.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
2.5* rounded down. George, "the Doctor", visits his friend Sigismund at his lodgings and falls in love with the landlord's daughter, Isabel. Isabel is addicted to novels and seeks to live as a fictional heroine, but nevertheless agrees to marry the prosaic George. Then she meets a rich neighbour, the idle Roland, and begins a very romantic dalliance with him.

Initially I quite enjoyed this story, and all the scenes featuring Sigsmund and his endless plotting of his trashy instalment novels were e
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Considering that this is a 19th century serialized novel, which means it is a bit preachy and very verbose, it was not a bad read!
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love Mary Elizabeth Braddon's books! I am on a quest to listen to every one I can find on
Oct 15, 2009 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
Nov 06, 2012 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
May 24, 2009 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
Mar 22, 2014 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
Mar 23, 2013 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
Apr 03, 2014 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.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle Carpenter
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was aggravated with heroine of the particular novel. She was young and stupid. She had no 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.
Sep 14, 2011 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.
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Ab
Feb 22, 2015 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!
Riley Dawson
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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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
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“George could only stare at the young lady's kindling face, which lighted up all in a moment, and was suddenly beautiful, like some transparency which seems a dingy picture till you put a lamp behind it. The young surgeon could only stare wonderingly at Mr. Sleaford's daughter, for he hadn't the faintest idea what she and his friend were talking about.” 2 likes
“I wonder sometimes to see the trouble a man'll take before he gets a pair o' boots, to find out as they're a good fit and won't gall his foot when he comes to wear 'em; but t' same man'll go and get married as careless and off-hand like, as if there weren't the smallest chance of his wife's not suiting him.” 0 likes
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