Both the author and the book were below my radar when a friend recommended it to me as a book to read It was hard to get hold of a paper copy in a sensible edition Surrey County Libraries don t have a copy, the Penguin classics edition is listed on the Penguin website as being an eBook only, but via abebooks I managed to get a new but out of print Penguin classics edition Phew I really enjoyed the writing the combination of narrative and very readable philosophical excursions The story painted an interesting picture of English rural life in the early 19th Century, with a combination of external effects disease, economic downturn, poor harvest and those local the interpersonal relationships, class, morality, humanity The greater emphasis of the social aspects of the novel on morality as opposed to propriety puts Deerbrook h Orphans Hester and Margaret come to the village of Deerbrook to stay with their cousin, Mr Grey, while he settles their late father s estate Mr Hope, the village apothecary, falls in love with Margaret, but Hester falls in love with him When Mrs Grey tells him the whole village is expecting him to offer for Hester, he does indeed marry her, despite the fact that this will mean Margaret living with them.
This took me to about 40% of the novel and after that I skimmed, so the precise details of the rest of the plot escape me I found this novel long and, in the main, humourless On the other hand, I very much enjoyed sections of it The feud between Mrs Grey and Mrs Rowland was an excellent plot strand which I think took on darker and dramatic proportions in the second half of the book The insularity and lack of privacy in a sma The Ibbotson Sisters, Hester And Margaret, Arrive At The Village Of Deerbrook To Stay With Their Cousin Mr Grey And His Wife, Speculation Is Rife That One Of Them Might Marry The Local Apothecary, Edward Hope Although He Is Immediately Attracted To Margaret, Hope Is Ultimately Persuaded To Marry The Beautiful Hester And Becomes Trapped In An Unhappy Marriage His Troubles Are Compounded When A Malicious Village Gossip Accuses Hope Of Grave Robbing, Threatening His Career A Powerful Exploration Of The Nature Of Ignorance And Prejudice, Deerbrook [ Pdf Deerbrook ↠´ gender PDF ] by Harriet Martineau Ò Also May Be Regarded As One Of The First Victorian Novels Of English Domestic LifeExcerpt Every Town Bred Person Who Travels In A Rich Country Region, Knows What It Is To See A Neat White House Planted In A Pretty Situation, In A Shrubbery, Or Commanding A Sunny Common, Or Nestling Between Two Hills, And To Say To Himself, As The Carriage Sweeps Past Its Gate, I Should Like To Live There, I Could Be Very Happy In That Pretty Place Transient Visions Pass Before His Mind S Eye Of Dewy Summer Mornings, When The Shadows Are Long On The Grass, And Of Bright Autumn Afternoons, When It Would Be Luxury To Saunter In The Neighbouring Lanes And Of Frosty Winter Days, When The Sun Shines In Over The Laurustinus At The Window, While The Fire Burns With A Different Light From That Which It Gives In The Dull Parlours Of A City Mr Grey S House Had Probably Been The Object Of This Kind Of Speculation To One Or Persons, Three Times A Week, Ever Since The Stage Coach Had Begun To Pass Through Deerbrook Deerbrook Was A Rather Pretty Village, Dignified As It Was With The Woods Of A Fine Park, Which Formed The Back Ground To Its Best Points Of View Of This Pretty Village, Mr Grey S Was The Prettiest House, Standing In A Field, Round Which The Road Swept There Were Trees Enough About It To Shade Without Darkening It, And The Garden And Shrubbery Behind Were Evidently Of No Contemptible Extent The Timber And Coal Yards, And Granaries, Which Stretched Down To The River Side, Were Hidden By A Nice Management Of The Garden Walls, And Training Of The Shrubbery In The Drawing Room Of This Tempting White House Sat Mrs Grey And Her Eldest Daughter, One Spring Evening Sweet mother of pearl, this was dull overblown, plodding, plotless verbosity at its worst And I say that as a lover of wordy victoriana like Collins, Braddon, LeFanu, Ouida, et al I made it through maybe 6 chapters before throwing in the towelit was hard to note specifics, what with my eyes glazing over in a sheen of boredom In an effort to awaken my brain from its slumbering stupor, I went back read the Scholarly Intro The editor makes some good points about the MCs which were difficult to keep straight, what with the onslaught of Small Town Personages wandering in out of every freakin scenebut I digress the tricky spot Martineau found herself in re middle class oriented fiction But while I can understand this book s place in the tree of English lit, it s still boring as hell These types of Cozy Small Town dramas just don t appeal to me, that applies as much Often described as a prototypical Middlemarch, it has similarities in its overarching authorial view and its wide ranging concern with small, rural lives The surprising difference that struck me was whereas Eliot was looking to examine the minutiae of everyday life and exult the small and often overlooked moments that make up our happinesses or despairs, listening for the roar on the other side of silence as she puts it, Martineau suggests that the key to happiness is actually in not examining one s life too deeply The only way to avoid despair is to busy oneself enough to overlook the fundamental truth that happiness is not guaranteed to everyone, or even most people why should any one of us reasonably expect happiness in a world not designed expressly for us or our satisfaction Such a deeply pessimistic, almost nih DeerbrookI like Deerbrook on so many different levels it s hard to know where to begin As a Quaker minister, I like the book for the underlying Christian themes of turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor as thyself, which themes Harriet Martineau weaves throughout but especially in the 2nd half of the book I like the novel because it s not just a novel but a platform for social change, thus we are instructed exactly how to live a better life even as we are swept away to a different world, a small and small minded Victorian village.
However, the wonderful and compelling story of two sisters and their loves occasionally gets lost in Harriet Martineau s overly wordy preaching of which I myself am equally guilty in my writing Deerbrook is like a fine lobster stew to which the chef has purposefully and heavily handed added c î Deerbrook î I ve never read a less entertaining book I wasted so many hours of my life with this And if people wonder why I bothered with it I had to read it for a class.
It s fine if you don t agree, many people in my class didn t But I personally consider this one of the most boring books I ve ever held in my hands.
In the history of the Victorian novel, this is an important book and Martineau is an important person in Victorian lit But for contemporary readers, this is ahard read, and by hard I mean boring Really boring It just doesn t work as a novel But PLEASE do not tell my beloved Victorian Lit professor Quite a lot like Austen and Eliot, with a swirl of Trollope for good measure For the first half of this very long book, I thought it might be a perfect, hidden treasure from the 19th century I read it on tenterhooks, hoping against hope that the novel could sustain that level of excellence The characters, the premise, and the occasional emergence of a sly, Austen ish narrative voice had me dreaming big.
Unfortunately, though, the second half got a bit long and over the top it reminded me of Thomas Hardy The humor sort of evaporated and things became pretty earnest.
Though I was slightly disappointed, there s still a lot to like about this book, and it seems very under read right now there are only 8 ratings on goodreads 8 It s much, much better than that, especially since you can read it for free on Project Gutenberg If you like Middlemarch, Persuasion, and Can You Forgive Her , I