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From the Back Cover
Margaret Oliphant, one of the most prolific and popular Victorian novelists, essayists, and reviewers, has been compared both in her day and our own to George Eliot. Oliphant wrote domestic novels that richly represent the broad social, political, and religious contexts of Victorian England. The Broadview edition of Phoebe Junior, the last novel in Oliphant's Chronicles of Carlingford series, restores the earliest extant text.
The supplemental materials provide a rich background for examining key nineteenth-century issues such as religion and church reform, gender and the woman question, society and politics. They include excerpts from contemporary novels and poetry; newspaper articles; reviews; essays; polemic on religion and church reform; materials on gender and the woman question, and on etiquette and dress.
About the Author
Elizabeth Langland is a Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Nobodys Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture (1995), Anne Brontë: The Other One (1989), and Society in the Novel (1983); and co-editor of Out of Bounds (1990) and The Voyage In: Fictions of Female Development (1983).
This is undoutably the ugliest edition of any book that I've seen ever. If a high school freshman would offer me this quality of work for an assignment, I would recommend him for his bravery and then send him back to middle school. I was going to offer this as a gift to someone, but that's out of the question because I don't want to insult. Don't really know what to do with the book now. I'm sure the writing is good and I don't want to throw away literature (buy another edition of this book, I'm sure that'll be fine) but that seem to be the only option now unfortunately. I can't fathom what Amazon was thinking offering this edition...
An odd title, and the cover illustration is puzzling (not that it matters). Judging by this book, Mrs Oliphant is undeservedly neglected. Her style is, naturally, of her time, but she writes with intelligence, wit and mastery of story-telling. Her characters are believable and the plot gathers pace to a very satisfactory ending.
1.0 out of 5 starsREALLY REALLY HATE THE FORMAT OF THIS BOOK
ByKeyboardon 31 December 2013 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love books by this author but hate the format this book is printed in because it is big and bulky with a terrible font for reading. Wish I had known what a cheap rendition this book was before I purchased it on Amazon. Total waste of money!
ByMarie (college English teacher)on 9 April 2009 - Published on Amazon.com
Wonderful novel. It helps if you have read the Carlingford Chronicles before reading this since it refers to characters from her previous novels. My favorite was The Perpetual Curate, next, MIss Marjoribanks, then this one. There are 6(?) or 7 in all of the chronicles.
5.0 out of 5 starsCold Comfort Farm Meets Middlemarch?
ByAmazon Customeron 15 August 2010 - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of my very favorite 19c novels, and it's Oliphant's very best, in my opinion--even better than _Miss Marjoribanks_. Like Miss M, it follows the adventures of a preternaturally self-reliant, capable, and ambitious heroine who navigates the complexities of her social milieu to achieve her goals. She's a more engaging protagonist than Lucilla Marjoribanks, however, because she is smarter: more quick-witted and perceptive about the motives of others.
What's especially interesting about this novel, though, is how ambivalent the author is about her own heroine, Phoebe Beecham, and how Phoebe's flaws actually make her a more interesting protagonist. Her shrewdness, self-importance, ambition, and frankness about the difficulties of her own class status (the educated daughter of upwardly mobile parents, she spends the novel caring for her grandmother, a shopkeeper's wife) make her a complicated heroine for whom the narrator seems to feel fluctuating levels of affection and disapproval. But these qualities also mean that Phoebe speaks on the subjects of class, gender, and female ambition with a refreshing clarity. She ends up in roughly the position of _Middlemarch's_ Dorothea Brooke, having a career of national importance through her husband, but she gets there with much less trauma. Clear-eyed and pragmatic, she works within the confines of her world, using her brains and her talent for persuasiveness to make her way.
In this way, Phoebe has a certain kinship to Flora Poste of _Cold Comfort Farm_--both characters are confident, well-educated, relentlessly modern (for their respective time periods) and have a fantastic ability to manage situations, people, and--not least--their wardrobes. Both provide a fantasy of feminine prowess and control over the domestic and personal sphere, and _Phoebe Junior_ particularly argues that this same capacity for management translates seamlessly to the national stage.
The ending **SPOILER ALERT** has presented readers with difficulties since the novel was first published, but in a way, Phoebe's husband--whom the narrator describes as a "lout"--is a surprisingly progressive guy. He's entirely willing to let his wife mastermind and manage his career and, one imagines, their personal lives; he's endearingly if somewhat lumpishly loyal; and he has the good taste to be drawn to Phoebe because she has "brains." The narrator makes is painfully clear that he is not the romantic choice, but one develops a certain sneaking fondness for this inarticulate underdog, with his unusually liberated outlook. </END SPOILER>
All in all, it's a delightful novel that lets us have our cake and eat it to: it illustrates the class and gender constraints to which most people were subject in Victorian England, but then it gives us a heroine who is able to transcend both.