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Superfluous Woman

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By: (1844-1926)

Superfluous Woman by Emma Francis Brooke is a beautifully written novel that delves into the complexities of societal expectations and pressures faced by women in the 19th century. The protagonist, Elizabeth, struggles to find her place in a world that deems her "superfluous" due to her lack of a husband or children. Brooke skillfully explores Elizabeth's internal battles and external challenges as she grapples with her own sense of self-worth and identity.

The character development in this novel is truly exceptional, as Elizabeth's growth and self-realization are palpable throughout the story. The reader can't help but empathize with her struggles and cheer for her victories. Additionally, the historical setting adds an extra layer of depth and intrigue to the narrative, giving readers a glimpse into the societal norms and expectations of the time period.

Overall, Superfluous Woman is a thought-provoking and engaging read that sheds light on the timeless issues of self-identity and societal pressures. Emma Francis Brooke's writing is both poignant and captivating, making this novel a must-read for those who enjoy historical fiction with a strong, relatable protagonist.

Book Description:
Published anonymously in 1894, “A Superfluous Woman” quickly became one of the most widely read of the “New Woman” novels that appeared at the end of the 19th century. At the opening of the story, we find Jessamine Halliday, a pampered young aristocrat, languishing and apparently close to death. Her desperate family has called in a maverick doctor, who recognizes that she suffers from the idleness and listlessness too often experienced by upper-class English women. The only “medicine” she needs is a change of thinking and new self-awareness. Accordingly, the doctor coaches her to think more critically about her role as a woman and about the uses of meaningful labor.

Jessamine tries to radically re-invent herself by fleeing London , to seek humble work as a farm helper in Scotland. It turns out, however, that it is not so easy to cast off the assumptions and controls of a lifetime.


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