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The Weaker Vessel (WOMEN IN HISTORY) Paperback – 12 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; Ted Smart edition edition (12 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842126350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842126356
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Antonia Fraser's bestselling account of the lives of women in seventeenth-century England.

About the Author

Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), CROMWELL: OUR CHIEF OF MEN, KING CHARLES II and THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMEN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND (Wolfson Award for History, 1984), THE WARRIOR QUEENS: BOADICEA'S CHARIOT, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY (Franco-British Literary Prize 2001), which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola in 2006 and most recently LOVE AND LOUIS XIV: THE WOMEN IN THE LIFE OF THE SUN KING. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. Antonia Fraser was made DBE in 2011 for her services to literature. Her most recent book is MUST YOU GO?, celebrating her life with Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve 2008. She lives in London.

Visit Antonia Fraser's website at www.antoniafraser.com


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most readable and enlightening books that I have read about life in 17th Century England. Although this is a very comprehensive work it is very readable and, once begun, very difficult to put down. Although it primarily deals with the role of women in the 17th century, it balances this by putting that role in context with events taking place at the time. What I found particularly facinating is that the book managed to give an in-depth look at life at all levels of society. This is a book that, having read it from start to finish, I still dip into from time to time because it is just so interesting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Like Fraser's other historical books this is written with integrity and panache. Rather than focusing on a single figure or narrative, however, she surveys women throughout the seventeenth century, organised by category such as marriage, widows, motherhood etc. There is nothing in here that is strictly new, but Fraser re-packages her information and delivers it in readable and accessible fashion.

My niggle is that her organising principle jumps around chronologically and so to some extent takes women out of their social and political context: the concept of the educated woman, for example, is quite different at the start of the seventeenth century when Elizabeth is still on the throne from what it becomes under the Restoration, say. It also assumes gender as a stable analytical category so that the fact of their biological sex is used to draw comparisons across social class, education, religion, politics etc. even though an elite, educated woman from a Protestant, monarchist family would have probably had more in common with an elite, educated, Protestant, monarchist man than a lower class, uneducated, Catholic, republican (for example) woman.

But this is a small flaw and certainly doesn't spoil the reader's pleasure. Fraser's writes history with a novelist's eye and pen - and if this is less self-consciously critical than a more scholarly work would be, it makes up for that in readability.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be a keen historian or a reader of "dry" books. This book is extremely well written and kept me really interested right to the end. It covers all aspects of women's role in society in the 17th century, from midwives, mistresses, whores, witches, middle-class wives and poor fishwives and deals with each backing up points of view with short written quotations. In fact it encouraged me to buy Samuel Pepys diary (you have to read it to believe it)!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Queen of the mud on 26 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is fascinating. It is a really easy and highly informative read. I love the fact that it covers all levels of 17th century society and not just the upper classes. It focuses on the role of women in society at the time and provides a fantastic insight into the everyday life of women from all walks of life. The research behind the book is very impressive. A very interesting read for any history and/or feminist enthusiast.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started reading Antonia Fraser's books after having read Gunpowder Plot. The Weaker Vessel is just as readble, and portrays the lives and characters of women from all walks of life, before, during and after the civil war. I think Ms Fraser is an amazing researcher, her books contain the most interesting facts all put together in pleasant prose which flows beautifully - so really it is like reading a novel rather than a work of pure fact (even though so many historical facts actually are included). Ms Fraser makes the female heroines of this novel come to life, for each lady discussed you feel genuine compassion, admiration, and sometimes disbelief at their feats of courage in the face of civil war. Included are excerpts from letters, diaries , etc which makes the account even more enjoyable. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in 17th century history or the history of women. One star less because I feel that the reader is not given an overall view of women in the 17th century - Antonia Fraser focuses on a handful of women, most of them extraordinarily courageous, but I do not think that the women in question were representative of the majority of women in Britain at the time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 July 2000
Format: Paperback
A really good book. Authoritative, exhaustive historical and also entertaining. From the upper classes to dairy maids, scolds and "witches"; from the pain and perils of pregnancy to domestic violence; the ignorant and the (few) learned women: every 17th Cetury female has her place in this wonderful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Stiles on 16 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a lot of information in this book with plenty of references for further study. However, it is also easy to read on a lighter level for a general understanding of the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tricoteuse on 20 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is well written, but there are too many names easily forgotten by the reader. When you reach page 200 and a person is mentioned again - after 100 pages inbetween - I have forgotten all about her. Being a foreigner (with a rather good knowledge of English history), I may not be the perfect reader, since many details from this period are unknown to me. But it is important to read about women in history, since they tend to be forgotten. In this manner the book serves its purpose.
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