|About the Book|
The diary and family papers of Caroline Clive, pre-Victorian authoress and bluestocking, are really fascinating! Unfortunately, the editing and commentary provided by Mary Clive, her descendant-by-marriage, is completely infuriating. Mary is hopelessly snide about Carolines intellect, appearance, and creative efforts, which makes the first part of the book (where Mary is filling in background details and narrating between letters and diary entries) really annoying. Its worth sticking with the book, though, as Mary eventually fades into the background and allows Caroline speak for herself, with only the occasional irritating comment.Caroline is smart, witty, a sharp observer, very passionate, and above all else deeply engaged in the world around her. The book also includes letters and diaries kept by her husband (a clergyman) and her husbands brother (a dissipated rake-about-town in the best Regency style). All of these are interesting both for themselves and for the window they provide into the lives of upper-class people during the enormous social transitions that were taking place during the 1830s and onwards, as Britain moved from the leniency of the Regency period to the strictness and hyper-morality of the Victorian. For instance, Caroline describes her pregnancy in fairly graphic detail, although Mary is so shocked by this that she only includes a very few examples -- a pity, because I think reading what a woman of the 1840s thought and knew about her own biological processes would be utterly fascinating.This isnt a very coherent review, but in summary: it was really awesome despite the terrible editor, and I want to own a copy, and I REALLY hope the original papers are archived somewhere that a proper scholar could work on them and publish them. Or at least scan them in and put them online for amateurs like myself.