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The Doctor's Wife (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Mary Elizabeth Braddon , Lyn Pykett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 July 2008 Oxford World's Classics
`Isabel Gilbert was not a woman of the world. She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers...she believed in a phantasmal world created out of the pages of poets and romancers.'

The Doctor's Wife is Mary Elizabeth Braddon's rewriting of Flaubert's Madame Bovary in which she explores her heroine's sense of entrapment and alienation in middle-class provincial life married to a good natured but bovine husband who seems incapable of understanding his wife's imaginative life and feelings. A woman with a secret, adultery, death and the spectacle of female recrimination and suffering are the elements which combine to make The Doctor's Wife a classic women's sensation novel. Yet, The Doctor's Wife is also a self-consciously literary novel, in which Braddon attempts to transcend the sensation genre. This is the only edition of a fascinating and engrossing work, and reproduces uncut the first three-volume edition of 1864.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed. / edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019954980X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199549801
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

is Professor and Head of English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Bovary (in my opinion anyway). 16 Feb 2004
By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ignore all the dry-as-dust academic blurb on the cover and in the introduction to this novel, if you take any notice of that you'll be put off reading it, and then you would be missing a treat. In "The Doctor's Wife" Mrs Braddon (never one to be put off "borrowing" a good idea) decided to do her own version of Flaubert's "Madame Bovary", and I must admit I had misgivings about this. For a good while it was hard to shake off Flaubert's novel as the stories, for the first half of the book, are so very similar. Isobel Gilbert, like Emma Bovary, is a young woman with a hopelessly romantic outlook on life, fuelled by her insatiable appetite for romantic fiction. She meets and marries George Gilbert, a promising young doctor in a small town in the fictional county of Midlandshire, and soon finds that married life isn't all romance.
About halfway through the book though Braddon's book breaks away completely from Flaubert's. Yes, like Emma, Isobel becomes infatuated with the handsome young local lord of the manor, and finds that he's not exactly immune to her charms either. But whereas Emma is quite hard-bitten and socially-ambitious, Isobel's love of romantic fiction has stymied her development, and she is stuck at the level of being a starry-eyed innocent schoolgirl, unable to cope when her admirer wants to move the relationship onto a more prosaic level.
This book is very Victorian in places and that might put off the modern reader.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Mary Elizabeth Braddon 8 April 2010
By Helen S VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Isabel Sleaford lives in a dream world filled with characters from novels by Dickens, Scott and Thackeray. She longs to break away from her boring existence as a children's governess and live the exciting life of one of the heroines in her favourite books. When parish doctor George Gilbert proposes to her, she accepts but quickly finds that her marriage isn't providing the drama and adventure she's been dreaming of. George is a good man, but he's practical, down to earth - and boring, at least in Isabel's opinion. After meeting Roland Lansdell, the squire of Mordred Priory, she becomes even more discontented. Roland is romantic, poetic and imaginative - in other words, he's everything that George isn't...

This is the second Mary Elizabeth Braddon book I've read - the first was the book that she's best known for today, the sensation novel "Lady Audley's Secret". Apparently "The Doctor's Wife" was Braddon's attempt at writing a more serious, literary novel, with a plot inspired by Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary". "The Doctor's Wife" is not very 'sensational' - apart from maybe the final few chapters - and although it's interesting and compelling in a different way, if you're expecting something similar to "Lady Audley" you might be slightly disappointed. At one point in the book, Braddon even tells us "this is not a sensation novel!"

The focus of "The Doctor's Wife" is the development of Isabel Gilbert from a sentimental girl with her head permanently in the clouds into a sensible and mature woman. I didn't like Isabel much at all, though I'm not really sure if I was supposed to.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this - it's marvellous! 16 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Brilliant! This is a wonderful book which I couldn't put down. It's an English adaptation of Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" which has far more wit and humour than the original. It's funny, exciting and fascinating. Why on earth has it been out of print for so long?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By mrs_t
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i love love this book, it is totally gripping and the better each time i read it. It concerns a silly girl really, though you can't help but love and feel for her and her marriage...and subsequent story, i really don't want to give anything away. It is far superior to many books i have read by "popular" authors (austen particularly) and i would highly recommend it - esp to women, not sure men would "get" it....try it and you won't be disappointed
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 28 Jun 2014
By cj
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story has an interesting plot to start with then some twists and turns which keep you interested until the end with a very unexpected outcome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and interesting. 3 May 2014
By Aletheuon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written book which stimulated my imagination and provoked me to quite deep thought. I expected a bit of a pot-boiler. Mary Elizabeth Braddon wrote over eighty novels, most of them serialised in magazines, and some people have described her as 'the queen of sensation' because of the (for the time) sensational nature of her stories. Her most famous book was 'Lady Audley's Secret'. Actually, this book is quite different from it. Both are enjoyable, but this one is both much more humorous and also more truly tragic. One of the main characters is actually a 'sensation novelist' and M.E. Braddon has fun affectionately mocking the genre by which she makes her living.
The book describes the struggles of an intelligent but emotionally and intellectually neglected young woman to become an adult and cope with the real world. Her struggle is shown with insight and sensitivity and is sometimes quite moving.
The usual themes of a sensational novel of the time are present - death, adultery,dark secrets and terrible betrayal - but there is also (I think) an aspect deeply personal to M.E.Braddon. As a woman who earned her own living, perhaps she wanted to defend and further the rights of women in an age when they did not have as much freedom as men. In particular, she shows how women had to deny and submerge their own identity and longings in order to do their domestic duty to their husbands, since this was regarded as the role of every respectable female. As has often been pointed out, the book is like Flaubert's 'Madame Bovary', though the choices of the heroine are different and therefore, so is the outcome.
Lacking parenting, moral guidance and education, and with a dark secret in the family, Isabel Sleaford can feed her mind only with romantic novels and poetry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars VICTORIAN mELODRAMA
Ireally enjoyed this book. Ihave read two or three of Mary E Braddons other titles in the past. If you enjoy Dickens you will like this
Published 4 months ago by P Austin
4.0 out of 5 stars very romantic, giving such a lovely glimpse into the old world...
I loved the romance, the singular portrayal of Isabel, who is so pure and innocent, that she deserves to be loved... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Classic lover
3.0 out of 5 stars the doctor's wife
This is not as good as some of her other work. There is a lot of repetition and it is not as gripping as I had hoped
Published 8 months ago by Joyce Crocker
4.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read
It is a book that holds your attention and the references to other literary characters is very clever and shows a really well informed writer, it really adds to the narrative. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Nettie Drew
2.0 out of 5 stars More Victorian Melodrama
I "purchased" this book on Kindle because it was the author's reworking of Madam Bovary and yes there are loose connections although the Doctor's Wife is in no way as "Bad" as... Read more
Published 11 months ago by AllieM
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden gem
Extremely well-written novel, to the extent of several paragraphs re-read several times.Stimulating insight on the part of the author into the impact of the appearance of a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Graham L. Laws
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
I bought this book for my university course. I really recommend it. It arrived promtly and I'm very happy with the condition.
Published 12 months ago by Vicki
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
This book really was difficult for me to read and i gave up after the first chapter it just was not interesting enough for me to keep on reading it.
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars I was'nt that interested
This book did not interest me at all over and above that I have nothing more to say about it
Published 16 months ago by Mr. L. Crane
5.0 out of 5 stars readable
I liked the book and would recomend it to any one who asked. Sorry nothing more to say I do not like writing about a book I read a while ago
Published 17 months ago by Margaret Ellis
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