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This readable and accessible book has secured an impact beyond the academic world, becoming the Guardian book of the week in March 2011 and drawing positive reviews in both the academic and non-academic press.
I was 16 or 17 when I first read Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy, and 26 when I completed my PhD on shell shock in First World War Britain.
Any historian analysing a historical novel is bound to appear a little pedantic, taking a spade to the proverbial soufflé, but here goes.
‘I am what you would call a Fallen Woman, but I assure you I did not fall – I was pushed’ (Faber, p. 336).
The poor Victorians, they’ve been constantly rebuked for their sexual repression by daring rebels. Somehow, these rebels became the archetypes of Victorian culture – such as the beloved Pre-Raphaelites.
Deborah Simonton’s Women in European Culture and Society: Gender, Skill and Identity from 1700 purports a ‘straightforward agenda – to explore European women’s relationship to their culture and society since about 1700’ (p. 1).
Chocolate, writes Emma Robertson in the introduction to her monograph, ‘has been invested with specific cultural meanings which are in part connected to … conditions of production’ (p. 3). At the heart of this study is a challenge to existing histories:
What was killing the girls of the Casa della Pietà? This is the question which recurs throughout Nicholas Terpstra’s study of the Pietà, a Florentine charitable shelter for orphaned and abandoned girls. According to Terpstra, the Pietà was ‘the most unsafe place in Florence for a girl to live’ (p.
Midst the foe, and the stranger she seeks not renown
She courts not their smiles, and she heeds not their frowns
Could she only impart unto childhood and youth
The science of God, of religion, and truth... (p. 110)
In her most recent publication, Felicity Nussbaum masterfully explores the relationship between the celebrated actresses of the 18th-century English stage and the changing economic and social mores of the period.