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Clever Woman of the Family   By: (1823-1901)

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Clever Woman of the Family by Charlotte Mary Yonge is a captivating novel that beautifully captures the challenges and triumphs of a determined and intelligent young woman in Victorian society. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, the story revolves around the life of the main character, Rachel Curtis, as she navigates the complexities of family dynamics, social expectations, and her own personal ambitions.

The novel adeptly highlights the limitations and expectations placed upon women during this time period. Rachel, as the eldest daughter, is regarded as the "clever one" in her family, blessed with a quick mind and sharp wit. However, she constantly finds herself constrained by societal norms that restrict women to the domestic sphere. Despite these limitations, Rachel refuses to be merely a passive observer of her own life, and instead, she aspires to make a difference in the world.

Yonge portrays Rachel as a strong and resilient character, whose determination and moral compass guide her through the trials and tribulations of her journey. The author skillfully weaves together the themes of family loyalty, love, duty, and the pursuit of knowledge, creating a rich tapestry of emotions and conflicts. Rachel's struggles with societal expectations, her personal desires, and the clash of traditional and progressive values are all expertly portrayed, making her a relatable and memorable protagonist.

At its core, Clever Woman of the Family is a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of womanhood and the power of individual agency. The novel delves into the importance of education, intellectual curiosity, and the pursuit of personal growth, while also highlighting the ever-present pressure for women to conform to traditional gender roles. Yonge crafts each character with depth and authenticity, allowing readers to empathize with their experiences and dilemmas.

Furthermore, the historical backdrop of the Victorian era adds an additional layer of depth to the narrative. The author paints a vivid picture of the societal norms, class divisions, and burgeoning movements of the time, providing readers with a fascinating glimpse into this era of great social change. The details and descriptions are impeccably researched, creating a world that is both immersive and authentic.

Clever Woman of the Family is a beautifully written and engrossing novel that will appeal to readers of historical fiction, particularly those interested in the challenges faced by women during the Victorian era. Yonge's storytelling mastery and the poignant portrayal of Rachel's journey make this book a compelling and satisfying read. It reminds us of the timeless importance of perseverance, self-discovery, and the ability to challenge societal expectations in the pursuit of one's dreams.

First Page:


by Charlotte M. Yonge

From the 1880 edition published by MacMillan and Co., London.


"Thou didst refuse the daily round Of useful, patient love, And longedst for some great emprise Thy spirit high to prove." C. M. N.

"Che mi sedea con l'antica Rachele." DANTE.

"It is very kind in the dear mother."

"But what, Rachel? Don't you like it! She so enjoyed choosing it for you."

"Oh yes, it is a perfect thing in its way. Don't say a word to her; but if you are consulted for my next birthday present, Grace, couldn't you suggest that one does cease to be a girl."

"Only try it on, Rachel dear, she will be pleased to see you in it."

"Oh yes, I will bedizen myself to oblige her. I do assure you I am not ungrateful. It is beautiful in itself, and shows how well nature can be imitated; but it is meant for a mere girl, and this is the very day I had fixed for hauling down the flag of youth."

"Oh, Rachel."

"Ah, ha! If Rachel be an old maid, what is Grace? Come, my dear, resign yourself! There is nothing more unbecoming than want of perception of the close of young ladyhood."

"Of course I know we are not quite young girls now," said Grace, half perplexed, half annoyed.

"Exactly, from this moment we are established as the maiden sisters of Avonmouth, husband and wife to one another, as maiden pairs always are... Continue reading book >>

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