2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A bit of a slog,
This review is from: Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education (Paperback)
I read this on the back of Robinson's book "A Force To Be Reckoned With" (about the WI) and found "Bluestockings" very dull in comparison. While the former book was taut, zippy and fun to read, "Bluestockings" really does feel like an uphill struggle most of the time. Its a book you really have to want to read in order to continue ploughing through it all the way to the end. I very nearly gave up, save the fact that I took it with me to read during a short hospital admission and had nothing else! While Robinson must be applauded for shining a light on the subject, I am sure that there must have been some way to make it a more entertaining read; its very dry and academic, and not written with a great deal of verve pr flair. The "cut off date" of 1939 is rather odd, as I am sure that there is much to be said about women's education in the 40s and 50s. And after graduation - what happened then? No effect on the jobs taken by "graduettes" is discussed, or how the male dominated world of work reacted to the sudden arrival on the scene of educated women.
One minor quibble I have is that reference is made to Tennyson's poem "The Princess" and Robinson seems to think that anyone familiar with this work (she doesn't actually bother to quote any of it) will be immediately familiar with the Gilbert and Sullvan operetta "Princess Ida", which in modern terms is a spin off from the Tennyson poem, although they are very different in tone. The former is quite respectful of the idea of female education, even gently satirical, whereas the latter is incredibly bitter and uncomplinentary - the G and S operettas were the "Private Eye" of their day.
"Bluestockings" can be a difficult, dreary read on occasion and really does the subject no favours. It is almost as if the dry, dessicated air of academia permeates the book; I found myself wanting to metaphorically throw open a window and let some fresh air in. If you compare this to "A Force to Be Reckoned With", you may find yourself amazed that both books were written by the same author.