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Gypsy Breynton   By: (1844-1911)

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Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' novel, Gypsy Breynton, takes readers on a captivating journey through the life of its enigmatic protagonist. Set against the background of 19th century America, the book explores themes of identity, love, and the pursuit of individual freedom.

The story begins with the introduction of Gypsy Breynton, a young woman raised within the confines of a strict and oppressive religious sect. As she grows older, Gypsy's yearning for independence intensifies, forcing her to confront the suffocating restrictions that govern her every move. Phelps expertly captures Gypsy's inner turmoil, allowing readers to empathize with her desires and frustrations.

What makes this novel particularly compelling is Phelps' exploration of the power dynamics between men and women during this time period. Gypsy's defiance of societal norms and her refusal to conform to the expectations placed upon her provide a fascinating commentary on gender roles. Through her character, Phelps sheds light on the oppressive nature of patriarchal structures and encourages readers to question the limitations imposed upon women in society.

Furthermore, the book's depiction of love and romance adds an additional layer of depth to the narrative. Gypsy's relationships with various suitors - each representing a different aspect of femininity and societal expectations - highlight the complexities of human emotion and the quest for genuine connection. Phelps skillfully weaves together these relationships, offering nuanced perspectives on love, desire, and the sacrifices one may have to make in order to pursue personal fulfillment.

One of the most impressive aspects of Gypsy Breynton is Phelps' writing style. Her prose is lyrical and evocative, transporting readers to the 19th century with vivid descriptions of landscapes, costumes, and social conventions. Furthermore, Phelps demonstrates a keen understanding of human psychology, delving into the depths of her characters' minds and exposing their fears and vulnerabilities.

While Gypsy Breynton is undoubtedly a compelling and thought-provoking read, it does have its flaws. At times, the pacing can be slow, and the extensive internal monologues may be off-putting for readers seeking a more action-oriented narrative. Additionally, some may find the book's exploration of religious dogma to be heavy-handed or didactic.

Overall, Gypsy Breynton is a beautifully written novel that delves into the complexities of individual identity and the struggle for personal freedom. Phelps' vivid characters and evocative prose make for an immersive reading experience that encourages introspection and reflection long after the final page is turned. For those interested in thought-provoking historical fiction, this book is certainly worth considering.

First Page:



New York Dodd, Mead and Company

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by GRAVES & YOUNG, in the Clerk's Office for the District Court of Massachusetts

Copyright, 1894, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward.


Having been asked to write a preface to the new edition of the Gypsy books, I am not a little perplexed. I was hardly more than a girl myself, when I recorded the history of this young person; and I find it hard, at this distance, to photograph her as she looks, or ought to look to day. She does not sit still long enough to be "taken." I see a lively girl in pretty short dresses and very long stockings, quite a Tom boy, if I remember rightly. She paddles a raft, she climbs a tree, she skates and tramps and coasts, she is usually very muddy, and a little torn. There is apt to be a pin in her gathers; but there is sure to be a laugh in her eyes. Wherever there is mischief, there is Gypsy. Yet, wherever there is fun, and health, and hope, and happiness, and I think, wherever there is truthfulness and generosity, there is Gypsy, too.

And now, the publishers tell me that Gypsy is thirty years old, and that girls who were not so much as born when I knew the little lady, are her readers and her friends to day... Continue reading book >>

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