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The Woman Who Did

The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen
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Most times, especially in the time when this book was written (1895), it is just as nature and society would wish: a man and woman “fall in love” and get married. But it is not so for Herminia Barton and Alan Merrick. They do indeed fall in love, but Herminia has a deeply held belief in freedom for women, and she holds immutable views against what she perceives as the slavery of marriage.

Alan unwillingly agrees to her strong wish to remain unmarried and to live together as “close and dear friends”. When the birth of their child is imminent, they go to his beloved Italy to avoid the condemnation of English society.

From this point on, many questions are raised: is marriage indeed so important? Is strong will always good? Is it right to go against society? And if it is, when should we stop and consider the effects on other people? What should a child do when she is raised to be what her mother dreams and develops her own dreams in the process? And, finally, how much should parents sacrifice for their children?

First Page:

THE WOMAN WHO DID

by

Grant Allen

1895

TO MY DEAR WIFE

TO WHOM I HAVE DEDICATED MY TWENTY HAPPIEST YEARS

I DEDICATE ALSO

THIS BRIEF MEMORIAL OF A LESS FORTUNATE LOVE

WRITTEN AT PERUGIA

SPRING 1893

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE

WHOLLY AND SOLELY TO SATISFY

MY OWN TASTE

AND MY OWN CONSCIENCE

PREFACE

"But surely no woman would ever dare to do so," said my friend.

"I knew a woman who did," said I; "and this is her story."

I.

Mrs. Dewsbury's lawn was held by those who knew it the loveliest in Surrey. The smooth and springy sward that stretched in front of the house was all composed of a tiny yellow clover. It gave beneath the foot like the pile on velvet. One's gaze looked forth from it upon the endless middle distances of the oak clad Weald, with the uncertain blue line of the South Downs in the background. Ridge behind ridge, the long, low hills of paludina limestone stood out in successive tiers, each thrown up against its neighbor by the misty haze that broods eternally over the wooded valley; till, roaming across them all, the eye rested at last on the rearing scarp of Chanctonbury Ring, faintly pencilled on the furthest skyline... Continue reading book >>


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