Helen Mccabe's Reviews > No Priest but Love: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister 1824-1826

No Priest but Love by Anne Lister
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Read 4 times. Last read August 14, 2019 to August 21, 2019.

See my review on Amazon.co.uk.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 14, 2019 – Started Reading
August 14, 2019 – Started Reading
August 14, 2019 – Started Reading
August 14, 2019 – Shelved
August 18, 2019 – Finished Reading
August 18, 2019 – Finished Reading
August 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Helen Mccabe Nearly finished this book. I shall review it soon.


Helen Mccabe After watching the exploits of Gentleman Jack on the TV series, I decided to read Anne Lister's diaries. As an 18th specialist, I am used to reading diaries in the 18th and 19th centuries, but I discovered that Miss Anne Lister's diaries would be hard going for a reader who is not au fait with the manners and culture of the time. The extracts are made up of short entries and unfamiliar language, yet a reader can easily identify the verve and liveliness of the diaries themselves in spite of not knowing the folk of which they are spoken. To rectify this, there is a list of terms at the end of each chapter so one can look up the allusions Anne has been familiar with, but I would have preferred to have these at the end of the book in a glossary. These notes slowed up the action of the diaries when one is eager to carry on reading the actual events. The chapters also begin with a short extract from the author of the book describing things about the life of Anne itself. I found myself skipping over most of these, but those I didn't were interesting and enlightened me about those happenings, so perhaps these notes could have been in the right place for some people. What came over in the whole book were two things. The first that Anne's rapacious and sexual nature made every woman she met a potential lover. Two, that she already has had a lover, Marianne, whom she does not want to lose, but whom she split with when the lady in question decided to get married to a man. Yet her love with Marianne has caused Anne to contract a venereal disease for which Anne is now being treated with mercury and that Marianne has caught from her profligate husband. As Anne tries to hide this and to seduce another woman whom she fancies, Marianne is always there in the back of her mind and she feels that she needs the pure love she had with her former amour. She also agonises over her need for raw sex pitted against true love which doesn't need a priest. (Hence the title of the book) Some of the entries are raunchy certainly considering the strict manners of the time but, on the whole, I feel Anne is to be pitied being in such a difficult position as contracting such an illness, and when a love like she felt was outlawed meant pure disgrace in her time. Yet the entries in her diary exemplify that in whatever station a woman finds herself, there is always hope to find real love with a willing woman, rather than sex with a heterosexual man she does not love - if she was brave enough - and Anne was certainly that.


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